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France suspends Mistral warship delivery to Russia over Ukraine crisis

media One of the Mistral warships in the Saint Nazaire dockyard Reuters/Stephane Mahe

France has suspended delivery of a high-tech Mistral warship to Russia over the Ukraine conflict. Moscow says it will not take legal action “for the moment”.

French President François Hollande “considers that the current situation in eastern Ukraine still does not allow for the delivery” of the first of two Mistral warships, a statement from the presidential office said on Tuesday.

The Vladivostok should have been delivered in October and Russian sailors have been trained in France to operate it but the sale has proved controversial in the light of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and alleged support for separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Hollande has put off the decision on granting an export licence “until further notice”, the statement said.

The deal, which was agreed in 2011, has aroused criticism from the US and some European countries in the light of the Ukraine crisis.

Russia has warned of “serious” consequences if the Mistrals are not delivered but on Tuesday said that it would not take France to court over the contract “for the moment”.

“We will wait patiently,” Russian Defence Minister Yuri Borissov told state news agency Ria Novosti on hearing of Hollande’s announcement.

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