PARIS, Sept. 3 (UPI) -- Saying conditions "were not in place," France announced Wednesday it would not deliver an under-construction warship to Russia.
A statement from the Elysee, the French presidential palace, blamed Russia's actions in Ukraine, and said the first of two Mistral-class assault ships would not be delivered to Russia by the deadline of late October. The ship, named the Vladivostok, is essentially a small aircraft carrier suitable for helicopter takeoffs and landings, and is completing construction at a shipyard in the French port city of St. Nazaire. It is one of two ships France has contracted to build for Russia; the second, named the Sevastapol, was to be delivered in 2015, but the statement Wednesday made no mention of it. The contract for the two ships is worth 1.2 billion Euros ($1.6 billion).
Military analyst Phillippe Magault said he believes the ships will ultimately be sent to Russia.
"The president of the republic has concluded that despite the prospect of ceasefire, which has yet to be confirmed and put in place, the conditions under which France could authorize the delivery of the first helicopter carrier are not in place," the statement from President Francoise Hollande said.
I expect it will eventually go ahead as planned. It would be disastrous for France's arms industry if the government suggested that it will cancel the deal. France is one the biggest exporter of arms around the world and it would greatly harm its reputation, as well as the fact (that) France would have to pay back around one billion euros to Russia as well as fines for cancelling the deal," Migault said.