In the last few day authorities tried to put a positive spin on the issue. President Francois Hollande claimed that finding buyers would not be difficult. In fact, if Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is to be trusted, several countries have already expressed their interest in purchasing the watercraft. However, not a single country has made an open bid for the ships so far.
Many experts doubt that France will be able to disperse the Mistrals promptly. "Selling someone ships these days is extremely difficult," IHS Jane's senior analyst of defense procurement Ben Moores told AFP.
The only real option France has is to offer a massive discount for the Mistrals. "They will have to seriously cut their price to make it attractive to another country," Moores added. And even in this case the deal, according to the expert, "could take years."
The majority of these countries have a ship building industry capable of manufacturing an amphib.
Those contemplating the purchase should keep in mind that the two helicopter carries were built to meet the specific needs of the Russian Navy. Their de-customization will be a lengthy and expensive endeavor. The French daily Les Echos quoted an expert as saying that the process could cost up to 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion).
The agreement was suspended in late 2014 over Moscow's alleged involvement in the Ukrainian civil war. The Kremlin has repeatedly said Russia is not a party to the deadly conflict and pushed for peace in the war-torn nation.
Paris is reported to have transferred some 1.1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) to a Russian bank as compensation for the non-delivery.