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Russia: France must follow through on warship delivery

"It is possible that we never deliver them," French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a television interview Friday. "The Russians must realize this situation."

By
JC Finley
A French Naval Mistral warship, pictured in 2006 in Beirut, Lebanon. UPI File/Norbert Schiller
A French Naval Mistral warship, pictured in 2006 in Beirut, Lebanon. UPI File/Norbert Schiller | License Photo

MOSCOW, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- France's reputation is in jeopardy for stalling delivery of Mistral-class warships to Russia, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned Friday.

"We have already had enough of this issue, it's not our problem, it's the problem of France's reputation," Lavorv told reporters on the sidelines of an OSCE meeting in Switzerland. "And next, the contract must be strictly fulfilled."

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France, meanwhile, maintains it will not fulfill the contract until Russia improves its relations with neighboring Ukraine.

Russia has been accused by the West of inciting unrest in eastern Ukraine, and supplying both military equipment and personnel to the rebels in their battle against the Ukrainian government. The European Union and United States have imposed successive sanctions on Russia in response to its aggression toward Ukraine, and have pressured France to cancel its Mistral amphibious assault ship contract with Russia.

According to the $1.6 billion contract, the first Mistral ship, the Vladivostok, was scheduled to be delivered by mid-November and the second warship, the Sevastopol, in 2015.

"It is possible that we never deliver them," French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Friday during an interview with news channel BFM TV. "The Russians must realize this situation."

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