Hollande says postponing Mistral warship delivery to Russia 'until further notice'

The Mistral-class assault warship Vladivostok, the first of two mammoth Mistral helicopter carriers, that was supposed to be delivered to Russia on Nov 15, 2014, according to the original deal signed in 2011 and worth 1.2 billion euros ($1.5 billion)
The Mistral-class assault warship Vladivostok, the first of two mammoth Mistral helicopter carriers, that was supposed to be delivered to Russia on Nov 15, 2014, according to the original deal signed in 2011 and worth 1.2 billion euros ($1.5 billion) for both vessels, is docked on November 21 at the entrance of the western French port of Saint-Nazaire near the Russian training ship, Smolny. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday delayed the controversial delivery of a high-tech warship to Russia "until further notice" over the Ukraine crisis. -- PHOTO: AFP
French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday delayed the controversial delivery of a high-tech warship to Russia "until further notice" over the Ukraine crisis. -- PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday delayed the controversial delivery of a high-tech warship to Russia "until further notice" over the Ukraine crisis.

"The President of the Republic considers that the current situation in eastern Ukraine still does not allow for the delivery of the first" warship, Hollande's office said in a statement.

"He therefore decided to delay until further notice" the decision on whether to grant the export licence needed to deliver the helicopter carrier to Russia, the statement added.

Russia has reportedly warned Paris of "serious" consequences unless France delivers the first of two Mistral-class ships on order by the end of November.

The first of the two assault ships was supposed to be delivered earlier this month, according to the original deal signed in 2011.

But amid the Ukraine crisis and the rapid decline in the West's relations with Russia, France has come under intense pressure from its allies, particularly the United States, and in September postponed the delivery.

Responding to Hollande's announcement, Russian deputy defence minister Yury Borisov said the country does not plan to file a claim against France. “We’ll wait patiently... So far we are not filing a claim anywhere,” Borisov told RIA Novosti news agency.