Mistral Deal Shows Complexities of France-Russia Ties

Mistral Deal Shows Complexities of France-Russia Ties
The Vladivostok Mistral-class helicopter carrier docks at Saint-Nazaire harbor, France, Nov. 14, 2014 (AP photo by Laetitia Notarianni).

After reports last week that France and Russia reached a deal on compensation for France’s decision to cancel the sale of two Mistral-class amphibious assault ships, French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said in an interview Friday that the exact amount France will pay Russia will be announced when the deal is approved by Parliament. It was first reported that France would repay Russia $1.3 billion for the nixed deal, which would include compensation for the training of 400 Russian sailors and updated port infrastructure in Vladivostok. Reports later surfaced that the price tag would be closer to $2.2 billion.

But Sapin said Friday that those latter numbers are “inexact” and that the amount France will repay Russia will be less that the initial sale price of $1.3 billion.* He added, “All the figures will be given and they will be totally transparent.”

The uncertainty around France’s compensation to Russia is the latest chapter in what has turned into a drawn-out, politically fraught ordeal over the sale of the Mistral warships. While the initial deal was agreed upon in 2010, then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed the final contract in 2011 for four Mistrals, with the first two to be built in France and the second two to be built in Russia.

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