France has no right to sell Mistral-class helicopter carriers to a third country without Moscow's consent, a French source familiar with the situation told Interfax.
"France is unable to resell the Mistral-class helicopter carrier without the consent of Russia because the ship's stern was built by Russian shipyards," he said.
Given this circumstance, Paris will prefer to deliver the Mistral-class ship to Russia, the source said. "A French refusal to deliver the Mistral-class ship to Russia will have the most negative implications for its reputation," he said.
The delivery deadlines have yet to be set, the source said. "France is waiting for the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis to hand over the Mistral-class ships to Russia. For now, Paris has chosen to delay the approval of this delivery," the source said.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said earlier in the day that the reasons for which France had refused to deliver Mistral-class helicopter carriers to Russia were not given in the contract and would be rejected by Russia.
"None of us is going to accept the explanations alleging that certain conditions for handing over the ships have yet to be formed; we do not think these are the force majeure circumstances defined by the contract but, if you wish, this is a mere demonstration of geopolitical weakness of France," Rogozin said in an interview aired by the Rossiya 24 channel on Wednesday.
Russia's state arms trader Rosoboronexport and France's DCNS signed a contract to build two Mistral-class helicopter carriers in June 2011. St. Petersburg-based Baltiysky Zavod, part of the United Shipbuilding Corporation, built the sterns. The STX France Saint Nazaire shipyard attached the sterns to the bows and put the finishing touches to the ships.
France was due to deliver the first helicopter carrier, the Vladivostok, on November 14 but that did not happen and it remained unclear when the delivery might be done.
French President Francois Hollande said he had decided to postpone the Vladivostok's delivery to Russia over the Ukraine crisis. Russia said it was expecting to receive either the ships or the refund.
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