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France comes under US pressure over delivery of Mistral ships to Russia — French official

November 12, 2014, 20:05 UTC+3 PARIS
Every day the French ambassador in the United States and the embassy staff receive a call from the US State Department, which urges them to stop the delivery of Mistrals
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© ITAR-TASS/Vadim Zhernov

Infographics Mistral helicopter carrier Mistral helicopter carrier
Russia will purchase Mistral-class helicopter carriers from France. Infographics by TASS
PARIS, November 12 /TASS/. France comes under direct pressure from Washington over its contract with Russia for the construction and delivery of two Mistral helicopter carriers for the Russian Navy, a French politician and entrepreneur, Philippe de Villiers, said on Wednesday.

“Perhaps, what I am going to tell you will be sensational: every day the French ambassador in the United States and the embassy staff receive a call from the US State Department, which urges them to stop the delivery of Mistrals (to Russia - TASS),” Philippe de Villiers said an interview aired by the BFMTV channel.

He said that France should keep its word without fail and meet all its commitments by handing over the ships which Russia had ordered and for which Russia had paid.

“There are two reasons for it: first, France signed a contract on which the payment has apparently been made. Second, all other countries, including India and China, are looking at us. They are not going to work with us if we do not keep our word,” Philippe de Villiers went on to say.

At the same time, Philippe de Villiers said that France was on the verge of making a historical choice.

“Naturally, France should leave NATO because it is a military organization created at a time when the Soviet bloc still existed. But Russians are not our enemies today,” the French politician said adding that prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall there had been a “free world”, uniting the United States, NATO and Europe, and the Soviet bloc, which was not free .

“I would say that everything has changed by now: a non-free world subordinate to the United States exists on a permanent basis,” the French politician stressed.

Meanwhile, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Wednesday that the first Mistral helicopter carrier was to be delivered soon but the exact date of its handover to the Russian side was still unknown.

“The situation is as following: the /first/ helicopter carrier is to be delivered soon. But, as we know, the DCNS shipbuilding corporation has said that it does not have government permission to export the ship. So, no exact delivery date has been set. Under a contract with Rosoboronexport /the Russian arms trading firm/, the first Mistral ship is to be delivered in autumn 2014 and the second one is to arrive /a year later/ in autumn 2015,” the minister told the French National Assembly.

The French president said the decision would be made at the right moment and that he would handle the issue with due responsibility, the minister said.

"It’s not a simple decision indeed,” Le Drian stressed.

“At present, the contract on the first ship is being implemented normally. There is no need in any additional initiatives,” the French defense minister went on to say.

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