Kremlin says France should deliver contracted warship or refund, ties won't be affected

MOSCOW – The annulment of a contract for France to deliver a warship to Russia wouldn’t strain ties between the countries, the Kremlin said Friday.

President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said at a briefing that it’s up to France to deliver the Mistral-class warship or offer a refund. He added that the issue wouldn’t cause any problems in bilateral relations.

The Russian business daily Kommersant reported that France has offered a refund of 785 million euros ($894 million), while Russia wants France to pay nearly 1.2 billion euros. Asked about the report, Peskov wouldn’t comment on how much Russia wants France to pay.

France, which suspended the delivery “until further notice” last year because of the conflict in Ukraine, hasn’t yet made any announcement about the cancellation of the contract.

Russia’s envoy to the European Union, Vladimir Chizhov, said on Rossiya 24 television that France has apparently opted for the annulment of the contract. “It’s up to experts to determine a mutually acceptable figure,” he said.

“Such move doesn’t befit France as a major power, doesn’t befit it as a leading supplier of weapons,”Chizhov said. “It raises the issue of its reliability as a partner.”

The contract for the Mistral-class helicopter carrier was supposed to be the biggest arms sale ever by a NATO country to Russia.