Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has sacked the senior Navy official who was in charge of talks with France over the purchase of Mistral-class warships.
The Russian Defense Ministry says the dismissal of Vice Admiral Nikolai Borisov is not linked with the Mistral deal, which has raised concerns among France's NATO allies.
Borisov was forced out for "internal reasons," a Defense Ministry source told RIA Novosti.
The estimated $1.5 billion deal, which has been on the cards for months, came close to collapse last year over how much technology France was prepared to share with Russia. An inter-goverment agreement was reached in France in January, but no contract has yet been signed.
Under the agreement, Russia and France will co-build two Mistral-class helicopter carriers at France's shipbuilding yard at Saint Nazaire, while another two Mistrals will be built in Russia's St. Petersburg.
Mistral-class amphibious assault ships are capable of carrying up to 16 helicopters, four landing craft and 450 soldiers.
MOSCOW, April 19 (RIA Novosti)