French president offers conditions for warship delivery to Russia

French President François Hollande
Sipa Press/Scanpix

France has come under pressure from the US and European partners to scrap the deal, signed by his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy.

Hollande denies that this pressure had forced his hand and later explains to reporters what it will take to resume delivery.

“Some conditions have to be met for the warship to be delivered,” says the French president. “What are the conditions? A ceasefire and a political settlement. Today, those conditions are not met. How could I authorize the delivery of a ship which could tomorrow be used as a ship of war when there is the crisis in Ukraine? But as soon as – and it could happen in October or November – as soon as the conditions are met, the ships can be delivered.”

For the union workers building the helicopter carriers – the decision is a blow.

“We are outraged because if this decision stops the manufacture of the ships, especially the second one which is currently under construction – the first one is being finished – it would have a significant impact on the jobs of those working on the ships,” says Jean-Marc Perez, union representative at STX construction firm building the Mistral ships.

A French diplomat earlier said the contract was suspended until November, and the delay “could cost us 1 billion euros”.

The deal is worth 1.2 billion euros – and Russia is reported to have paid most of it, so breach of contract would mean France having to reimburse that money.

In addition, France would be liable for an extra 251-million-euro penalty payment, French news website LCI reports.

Poroshenko confirmed he would order a ceasefire on Friday if a proposed peace plan was signed in Minsk as expected.

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