Emm… About Those Ships we Ordered?

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War or no war, Russia has done a deal with the French government and the time is drawing close before they have to sink or swim on the issue of certain warships that were promised…

If the French Republic does not want to expose itself to “serious” demands for compensation, it must deliver the first Mistral helicopter-carrier warship to Russia before the end of November, according to a Russian source cited by the news agency Ria Novosti press agency.

“We are preparing for different scenarios. We’re waiting until the end of the month. And then we’ll present our financial demands.” So say the Russians, who are busily engaged by proxy in a conflict in the Ukraine that many Western leaders have been quick to label provocative and morally wrong. France’s deal puts them in the position of supplier to the clearly-labelled baddies – something that the British and the Americans gleefully pointed out.

Will he throw the rattle out of the pram at the end of the month? Putin crying for his promised toy, as portrayed by a French wag.

Will he throw the rattle out of the pram at the end of the month? Putin crying for his promised toy, as portrayed by a French wag.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the simmering war, a mild war of words between the French and the Russians will have to come to a head one way or another in the next week or so. Last week, the French Minister for Defence Jean-Yves Le Drian claimed that “no delivery date” of a Mistral to Russia “can be fixed at this point.” At the end of October Michel Sapin, the French Minister of Finance had made a public reminder of the conditions set by France: “What are the conditions? It’s that in Ukraine we’re within a framework that’s working towards a return to normal life, which permits us to relax things.” A return to normal life in the Ukraine does not, however, appear to be on the cards just yet and there was no reported mention of the ships between the French and Russian leaders at the decidedly awkward G20 Summit in Brisbane last week.

The deal with the Russians – concluded under the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy in 2011 – is worth in the region of €1.2 billion to the French state and involves the delivery of two Mistral assault ships. The first was originally meant to have been delivered last month, but events in the Ukraine overtook them and the Socialist government dared not furnish the ship until some progress along democratic lines had first been made in the conflict zone. The second ship is due for delivery next year.

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