TALLINN, November 20 (Sputnik) — NATO allies are concerned over France’s possible delivery of Mistral-class helicopter carriers to Russia, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday at a press conference at a military air base close to Tallinn.
Russia and France signed the €1.2 billion ($1.5 billion) deal for the two Mistral-class ships in June 2011. While the first carrier, the Vladivostok, was expected in Russia by the end of the month, the second ship, the Sevastopol, was supposed to arrive in 2015.
The deal has been in jeopardy after the West started implementing economic sanctions against Russia over the Ukrainian crisis. French President Francois Hollande in October threatened to suspend the deliveries of the ships, citing Russia’s alleged involvement in the Ukrainian conflict – a claim that Moscow has repeatedly denied.
The handover of the first ship, the Vladivostok, was scheduled for November 14, but the ceremony did not take place. Russia condemned France's failure to deliver on its contractual obligations, saying Paris would have to pay a large penalty if the deal was cancelled.