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France, Russia Void Mistral Warship Deal

  • VOA News

FILE - One of the two Mistral-class warships Russia had ordered from France is seen at the STX Les Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, western France, April 24, 2014.

FILE - One of the two Mistral-class warships Russia had ordered from France is seen at the STX Les Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, western France, April 24, 2014.

France's defense minister announced Thursday that his government reached an agreement with Russia to cancel the contract for the sale of two Mistral-class warships.

Jean-Yves Le Drian said France would fully reimburse what Russia had already paid for the contract, without mentioning the specific amount.

As part of Western sanctions for Moscow's annexation of Crimea and apparent support for pro-Russian insurgents in Ukraine, France suspended the delivery of the first warship last November.

The second warship, to be named Sevastopol, after a port in Crimea that Russia annexed from Ukraine in March 2014, was due to be delivered later this year.

It has been reported that the cost of the deal was $1.3 billion.

Le Drian said that several counties had expressed interest to buy the Mistral-class vessels built for Russia, which are similar to the U.S. Navy’s San Antonio-class of amphibious ships.

The Mistral warships can carry 700 troops, 16 helicopter gunships and up to 50 armored vehicles.

Agricultural products ban

Meanwhile, Russia marked the one-year anniversary of its ban on Western agricultural products Thursday.

President Vladimir Putin had ordered the destruction of illegal imports to enforce the ban, amid continuing tensions with the West because of the Ukrainian crisis.

More than 250,000 people signed an online petition urging the Kremlin to distribute the contraband food to the poor instead of destroying it. The Kremlin has ignored the public outcry.

Russia imposed a ban on many Western agricultural products, including meat, milk products, vegetables and fruit on August 6, 2014, in retaliation for U.S. and EU sanctions.

Last month, the Kremlin extended the ban for a year following the U.S. and EU's decision to prolong sanctions against Russia through January.

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