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France to refund Russia 949.8 million euros on undelivered Mistral ships

media The Vladivostok and the Sebastopol, Saint-Nazaire. File Decembre 2014. AFP/Jean-Sébastien Evrard

According to a draft law published on the French National Assembly website, France is to pay back Russia 949.8 million euros to scrap the deal on two Mistral warships.

Moscow and Paris agreed on 5 August that the sale, suspended over the Ukraine conflict, will be scrapped against a refund and on condition France can sell the two Mistrals to another country.

The French government had not until now revealed the exact amount of the refund, but had indicated the cost would be below a billion euros.

Although the weekly satirical newspaper Le Canard Enchaîné has claimed that the French bill could soar to two billion euros if related costs are added such as alteration costs, servicing of warships, withdrawal of the onboard Russian military technology and equipment.

Once the refund has been paid and military equipment returned to Russia, “the two warships will be at France’s disposal including for export”, notes the draft law.

According to a French official source, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are interested in buying the two Mistral warships and Canada and India could also join the ranks of potential buyers.

The original contract, worth 1.2 billion euros, was signed in 2011 under the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy for two crafts, the Vladivostok and the Sebastopol.

Both vessels are currently in the western French port of Saint-Nazaire.

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