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    Putin says Russia will buy Mistral only with technology transfer

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    Russia is interested in purchasing Mistral class amphibious assault ships from France only together with the accompanying technology, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on the eve of a visit to France.

    Russia is interested in purchasing Mistral class amphibious assault ships from France only together with the accompanying technology, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on the eve of a visit to France.

    Russia is negotiating the purchase of at least one French-built Mistral-class amphibious assault ship and plans to build three more vessels of the same class in partnership with the French naval shipbuilder DCNS.

    "For us, this deal is interesting only if it is accomplished with a parallel transfer of technology, so that our shipbuilders - both civilian and military - receive a new technological boost for development," Putin said in an interview with Agence France Presse and France 2 TV.

    The prime minister, who will visit France on Thursday and Friday, also said that "cooperation in a field as sensitive as military-industrial manufacturing, of course, leads to higher trust between countries."

    Putin reiterated that Georgia and other Russian neighbors should not fear the Mistral purchase because Moscow has no plans to attack other countries and hopes there will never again be a conflict similar to five-day war between Russia and Georgia in 2008.

    "You know, it is not the case when it is necessary to deploy weaponry as the Mistral ship. I hope that, God willing, we will never see a military conflict between Russia and Georgia. Never," he said, before pointing out that Russia was able "to carry out military strikes from the Russian territory at any target in Georgia."

    "We do not need a Mistral ship for that," he said.

    A Mistral-class ship is capable of transporting and deploying 16 helicopters, four landing barges, up to 70 armored vehicles including 13 battle tanks, and 450 personnel.

    The Russian military plans to use the Mistral ships in its Northern and Pacific Fleets.

    Chief of Russian Armed Forces General Staff Gen. Nikolai Makarov said on Tuesday that Russia needs Mistral class amphibious assault ships primarily to boost the combat capabilities of its Navy in the Far East and ensure protection of the disputed Kuril Islands.

    MOSCOW, June 9 (RIA Novosti) 

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