France, Russia sign deals on four Mistral-class warships

10:19, January 26, 2011      

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France signed an agreement Tuesday to sell four Mistral-class amphibious assault warships to Russia, including two to be built in Russia.

The deal was signed by Russian Vice President Igor I. Sechin and French Defense Minister and Minister of State Alain Juppe, in the presence of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

On Dec. 24, 2010, the Russian authorities have approved the sales offer presented by the consortium formed by French companies DCNS and STX and the OSK Russian shipyard. The Tuesday agreement was a follow-up formalization of that endorsement, according to French authorities.

The governments of the two countries pledged to give their full support to the construction of two warships in France and the other two in Russia, the statement added, describing the project as "the most important issue ever made by Russia and a Western country in this field."

Job opportunities are one of the focuses of the project as both countries are eager to boost depressed employment against fragile economic recovery.

The two states said the completion of the project, which will guarantee jobs to many Russian and French companies, can open new prospects for cooperation between the two sides.

The statement did not reveal the value of the contract, but previous report estimated that one Mistral-class amphibious assault ship can be worth 400-500 million euros (545-681 million U.S. dollars).

The 21,300-ton highly automated Mistral-class warship is capable of transporting and deploying 16 helicopters, four landing barges, up to 70 armored vehicles including 13 battle tanks and around 450 troops.

This landmark purchase has triggered concerns in the United States and former Soviet satellite states, which are still wary about Russia's rising military power, following the 2008 conflict between Georgia and Russia.

Source: Xinhua

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