A part of the Sevastopol ship, a Mistral class LHD amphibious vessel currently under construction for the Russian navy, arrives July 15 from the Baltic in Saint-Nazaire, France. (Jean-sebastien Evrard / AFP)
KIEV, UKRAINE — Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on Thursday he was “very disappointed” by France’s decision to go ahead with a deal to sell two warships to Russia, despite international condemnation of Moscow’s role in the east Ukraine conflict.
“It’s not a question of money, industry or jobs. It’s a question of values,” Poroshenko said during a meeting with European parliament deputies.
Russia stands accused by the West of arming separatists in Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland, and world powers including the United States have urged France to reconsider the warship sale since Moscow’s annexation of the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in March.
Britain has pushed for an EU arms embargo after the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 last week, but that could hurt France’s €1.2 billion ($1.6 billion) deal to deliver the two Mistral warships to Russia.
French President Francois Hollande has argued that the deal was done in 2011 and that Paris would go ahead with the delivery of the first ship in October.
Hollande said however the delivery of the second warship would “depend on Russia’s attitude,” adding that there were no current sanctions hindering the completion of the deal.
“The Russians have paid. We would have to repay” them if the ship was not delivered, he said.