MOSCOW, September 19 (RIA Novosti) - A senior Russian military official confirmed on Saturday that the country's Defense Ministry was currently in talks with France to buy a Mistral class amphibious assault ship.
A Russian source close to the negotiations hinted on Tuesday that technical bilateral discussions should be completed soon.
"We are holding talks, but no purchases have yet been made," Vladimir Popovkin, in charge of the ministry's department for armaments, told the Ekho Moskvy radio.
A Mistral class ship is capable of transporting and deploying 16 helicopters, four landing barges, up to 70 vehicles including 13 main battle tanks, and 450 soldiers. The vessel is equipped with a 69-bed hospital and can be used as an amphibious command ship.
The ship could cost between 300 and 400 million euros ($430-580 million).
Gen. Nikolai Makarov, the chief of the Russian General Staff, said in August that Russia was negotiating the purchase of one ship at present, and later planning to acquire 3-4 ships of the same class to be jointly built in Russia.
Some Russian military experts have questioned the purchase both from the financial and military standpoint.