The crew of the first Mistral-class helicopter carrier, the Vladivostok, may go to Saint Nazaire, France, for the vessel in March, the Main Headquarters of the Russian Navy told Interfax-AVN.
"In late February, the crew of the first vessel will return from Vladivostok to Kronshtadt, where it will be ready to leave for Saint Nazaire on the training vessel Smolny," the source said.
The crew of the second helicopter carrier, the Sevastopol, will stay at the Pacific Fleet's main base this time.
The source recalled that the training vessel Smolny left Saint Nazaire on December 18 and returned to Kronshtadt on December 30. It was carrying 400 sailors who had been trained to use the Mistral-class helicopter carriers in Saint Nazaire. The sailors later left for Vladivostok, where they previously served.
The current sanctions against Russia provide that the contracts signed in the sphere of military-technical cooperation earlier are to be fulfilled. Some NATO countries, primarily the U.S., the UK, Germany and Poland, have tried more than once to convince France to make the decision not to provide the Mistral-class helicopter carriers to Russia.
Rosoboronexport and the French company DCNS signed a contract for the construction of two helicopter carriers in June 2011. The after bodies of the helicopter carriers were built at the Baltic shipyard (a structure of the United Shipbuilding Corporation) in St. Petersburg. The after bodies were docked with the head parts and the construction was completed at a shipyard of the company STX France in Saint Nazaire.
France was expected to provide the first helicopter carrier, the Vladivostok, to Russia back on November 14. However, it has not been provided to Russia yet and it is not clear when it will happen.
French President Francois Hollande said he has made a decision to suspend the provision of the Vladivostok to Russia due to the situation in Ukraine. Russia, for its part, said it expects to receive either the ships or its money back.
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