A part of the Sevastopol ship, a Mistral class LHD amphibious vessel currently under construction for the Russian navy, arrives July 15 in Saint-Nazaire, France, from the Baltic. (Jean-Debastien Evrard / AFP)
MOSCOW — Russia will not pay for the Mistral warships being built by France until both ships have been delivered, an official said on Tuesday.
“The completion of payments on the signed contract will be done in November 2015, after the second ship is delivered,” head of Russia’s weapons exporter Rosoboronexport Anatoly Isaikin told ITAR-TASS news agency.
French President Francois Hollande recently said Paris would go ahead with the delivery of the first of two Mistral-class helicopter carriers under the deal, but that the second delivery would “depend on Russia’s attitude.”
The deal has been a sore topic among NATO allies even before tensions with Moscow escalated over the Ukraine crisis.
The United States has demanded that Paris cancel the deal, and last month called it “completely inappropriate.”
“We don’t think anyone should be providing arms to Russia,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.
But France said it would face penalties if it reneges on the deal, which has also provided significant employment at the STX shipyard in St. Nazaire on the Atlantic coast.
Isaikin said France has so far upheld its side of the agreement, completing work on the warships according to schedule.
“The French side is fully meeting its contract obligations,” he said. “Do not pay attention to rumors.”