MOSCOW - Russia has decided at a political level to buy a French Mistral-class warship and expects to sign the deal by the end of 2010, the state arms trade agency chief said April 21.
"Russia has made the political decision to purchase the Mistral-class warships. Now active consultations are in progress," Mikhail Dmitriyev told the RIA-Novosti state news agency.
He added: "It is expected that the agreement with France about the purchase of the Mistral-class vessels will be signed by the end of 2010."
RIA-Novosti reported that Russia wanted to buy one finished vessel from France and then construct three more itself.
The sale has proved controversial among Russia's neighbors, particularly Georgia and the Baltic states, while some U.S. lawmakers have condemned France for selling military technology to Moscow.