Francois Hollande, the French President, made arrangements with Vladimir Putin, according to which, the Russians are going to receive a full refund of the amount paid for the Mistral-class vessels. The contract concluded back in 2011 is going to be terminated, Paris will be allowed to sell the aforementioned ships to the third-party nations. French Minister of Defence, Jean-Yves Le Drian, informed that some “other countries” are interested in procurement of the Mistrals.
According to the release published by the French government, Presidents of France and Russia came to an agreement related to the contract concluded back in 2011, which covered the issue of delivery of the Mistral-class amphibious assault ships. According to the newly made arrangements, Moscow is going to receive a full reimbursement of the assets already paid in order to acquire the vessels, while the ownership rights to the ships are going to be transferred back into the French jurisdiction. As the Kremlin release states, the relevant funds have already been transferred to Russia.
Paris is now free to make decisions related to the ships, which – in practical terms – means that the vessels may be sold to the third nations. Before that, the ships will undergo the process of removing the equipment manufactured by the Russians. Both the French, as well as the Russian authorities stress the fact that the issue related to the Mistral sale is now a thing of the past. French Minister of Defence, Jean-Yves Le Drian, stated in his interview for the RTL TV, that the contractual amount initially was close to a sum of EUR 1.2 billion. The amount which is going to be returned to Russia is going to be smaller, corresponding with the funds allocated by Moscow, in order to acquire the ships.
The contract related to procurement of two Mistral ships for the Russian Armed Forces was signed back in June 2011. In the light of the Ukrainian crisis, the French authorities informed that the pending procurement request, related to the first vessel, was suspended back in November 2014. Moreover, Le Drian stated that Russia may never receive the aforementioned craft.
Moscow and Paris were involved in negotiations, the aim of which was to set proper conditions related to termination of the ship procurement contract. The disputes were related to the value of the assets which were to be returned to Russia. Le Drian added, in his interview for RTL, that other countries are already interested in acquiring the disputed Mistrals.