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Russia Mulls Buying Naval Ships From France, Spain, Netherlands

Russia's defense minister says the country plans to buy four advanced warships from France, and is also in talks with Spain and the Netherlands about purchasing such vessels.

Anatoly Serdyukov said Monday that Russia wants to buy one ship, and jointly build three others in deals with the NATO countries.

Russian President Dimitri Medvedev said he supports the deal.

Serdyukov said the ships would probably come into service in Russia's Northern and Pacific fleets.

The French Defense Ministry announced a deal earlier this year to sell the Russian Navy a Mistral-class ship, a large amphibious assault vessel.

The ships can carry dozens of armored vehicles, along with 16 attack helicopters.

Russia's possible purchase of a French warship has unnerved Georgia, which fought a brief war with Russia in 2008. Other former Soviet republics are said to feel that the warship deal would strengthen Russia's ability to intervene in its neighbors' affairs.

A Russian naval commander has said, if Russia had a Mistral-class ship in the Black Sea during its war with Georgia, it could have moved military equipment to the fighting zone in just minutes instead of hours.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.