MOSCOW, November 21 (Sputnik) – Russian Deputy Navy Commander Vice Admiral Alexander Fedotenkov has been appointed to take command of transferring the first Mistral-class helicopter carrier, the Vladivostok, from France to Russia, a military diplomatic source told RIA Novosti on Friday.
“The leadership of the Russian Defense Ministry has named Navy Vice Admiral Fedotenkov to take command on the transfer of the Vladivostok from Saint-Nazaire (France) to St. Petersburg (Russia),” the source said.
Russia and France signed a $1.6-billion deal for two Mistral-class ships in June 2011. The ships, capable of carrying 16 helicopters, four landing craft, 70 armored vehicles and 450 troops, are expected to join Russia’s Pacific Fleet.
The deal, however, has been at risk since the conflict in Ukraine started to escalate. The West, blaming Moscow for its alleged aggressive policy toward Ukraine has introduced several rounds of sanctions on Russia. In October, French President Francois Hollande threatened to suspend the deliveries of the ships to Russia.
The handover of the first ship, the Vladivostok, was scheduled for November 14, but did not take place. Russia has condemned France's failure to deliver on its contractual obligations, saying Paris would have to pay a large penalty if the deal was cancelled.