Russia must start building infrastructure near the port of Vladivostok as soon as possible to accommodate two Mistral class amphibious assault ships to be built in France for the Russian Navy, a military analyst said Thursday.
The ships are expected to join Russia's Pacific Fleet and be deployed to protect the disputed South Kuril Islands. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday ordered naval and ground-based units deployed on four Kuril Islands to be equipped with advanced weaponry.
"This [the early construction of infrastructure] will ensure their immediate use of these ships in the Vladivostok area upon entering service with the Pacific Fleet in 2014," said Igor Korotchenko, a member of the Russia's Defense Ministry's Public Council.
Korotchenko cited an example of a Pacific Fleet's naval base in Vilyuchinsk on the Kamchatka Peninsula, which has been fully prepared to host Russia's new Borey class strategic nuclear-powered submarines, although the vessels have not entered service with the Navy yet.
Moscow and Paris signed an intergovernmental agreement to jointly build four Mistral class ships on January 25.
Under the Russian-French agreement the first Mistral-class ship, with a price tag of 720 million euros, is expected to be built in late 2013-early 2014 and the second in late 2014-early 2015.
The remaining two Mistral ships will be built in Russia.
A Mistral-class ship is capable of carrying 16 helicopters, four landing vessels, 70 armored vehicles, and 450 personnel.
The South Kuril Islands were seized from Japan by Soviet troops at the end of World War Two and remain a source of tension between Moscow and Tokyo. Russia claims that the islands are "unalienable Russian territory."
MOSCOW, February 10 (RIA Novosti)