France suspends first Russian Mistral warship delivery
France has reportedly suspended the delivery of the first Mistral-class aircraft carrier, Vladivostok, to Russia 'until further notice'.
A statement from the office of the French President François Hollande said: "The current situation in the east of Ukraine still doesn't allow for the delivery."
France has been under pressure from the UK and the US to delay the delivery of the two warships, because of Moscow's reported involvement in the Ukrainian crisis.
Responding to the statement, Russia Deputy Defence Minister Yuri Borisov told state television that Moscow will 'watch and wait'.
Two weeks ago, a Russian official threatened to charge France for breaching the contract, cautioning 'serious repercussions' if it did not go as planned.
The latest announcement by the French Government comes after the launch of the second Mistral-class amphibious helicopter carrier, Sevastopol, from its dry dock in Saint-Nazaire, France.
The two Mistral-class vessels form part of a $1.52bn deal signed in 2011 and have been built by DCNS at its Saint-Nazaire shipyard.
Vladivostok was expected to join the Russian Navy by the end of this year, followed by Sevastopol in 2015.
As part of the deal, Russia also planned to procure two additional Mistral-class vessels, which were to be built in Russia and France.
The warships, which are capable of cruising at a maximum speed of 19k, incorporate an MRR-3D NG surveillance radar and a high-performance communications suite for humanitarian operations and several other missions.
Image: The delivery of the Mistral-class amphibious aircraft carrier, Vladivostok, has been suspended 'until further notice'. Photo: courtesy of Rama.