MOSCOW, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- The Russian Defense Ministry has abandoned plans to build two assault ships, a government official said, but the shipbuilder denied the report Friday.
Business newspaper Vedomosti cited an anonymous government official as saying Russia is dropping part of a contract with the French to build two Mistral class ships. Another two ships are already under construction as part of the $1.2 billion contract between the two countries, RIA Novosti reported.
The ships were to be 20 percent built in a shipyard in France's Saint-Nazaire and 80 percent in Russia.
Of the two unbuilt ships, the first was scheduled to be delivered to Russia in 2014 and the second was set for delivery in 2015.
Defense industry sources told Vedomosti the construction of the two ships would be a heavy financial burden and having four ships of this class in the Russian Navy may be unnecessary.
Russia's United Shipbuilding Corp., though, said the contract for all four ships remains in effect.
"We have not been informed of any such decision by the Russian Defense Ministry. Currently, the contract remains in force, as before," a spokesman for the corporation said.