Louis Gartier, the head of France's Secretariat-General for National Defense and Security, arrived to Moscow on Monday in search of the best way to let Paris save face after the embarrassing situation with the failed Mistral deal with Russia, French Le Monde reported.
Earlier in May, French media reported that Paris thought about selling the Russian Mistrals to third parties. However, the Russian side is strongly against it. The arms deal contract signed by the two countries has a special clause that prohibits the re-export of the ships — a common occurrence in arms export deals.
Furthermore, since the ships were custom-built for the Russian Navy according to its specifications and to fit Russian helicopters, the sale of the Mistrals to other countries would compromise Russian military secrets.
"They can't sell them without our permission," Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said.
Rogozin also said that stern parts of the two ships were built in St. Petersburg before getting transported to France for further assembly.
French defense experts are outraged by the situation, with some of them saying it would be best just to sink the ships.
The Mistral deal was signed in June 2011. France was supposed to handover the first ship last November; however Paris decided to put the delivery on hold, citing Russia's alleged intervention in the Ukrainian crisis.