Russia says France due to hand over first warship November 14

Russia said Wednesday that France is still due to complete the controversial handover of a warship next month, despite pressure for the deal to be scrapped over Moscow`s role in the Ukraine crisis.

Moscow: Russia said Wednesday that France is still due to complete the controversial handover of a warship next month, despite pressure for the deal to be scrapped over Moscow`s role in the Ukraine crisis.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said the country`s state-run arms dealer had received an invitation to attend a ceremony on November 14 for the handing over of the first of two Mistral helicopter carriers, Russian news agencies reported.

"From the point of view of the technical fulfilment of the contract, everything is going to plan," Rogozin said.

"As concerns the political decision, we think that France has to defend its reputation as a reliable partner," he added.

However, the French manufacturer of the warship denied that a date had been set.

A spokesman for the naval defence group said it was waiting for government authorisation to export the first of two helicopter carriers, adding: "No delivery date can therefore be confirmed at this stage."

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Tuesday that the decision on whether to deliver the state-of-the-art warship to Moscow would be made in November.

Paris last month said it was postponing the decision to deliver the first of two Mistral-class advanced helicopter assault ships to Russia until November after fierce criticism from its allies given the crisis in Ukraine.

President Francois Hollande`s office announced on September 4 that conditions for France to deliver the warship were "not to date in place", pointing to Russian involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Hollande reiterated earlier this month that a ceasefire reached between Kiev, Moscow and pro-Russia separatists in east Ukraine would have to be "completely respected" for Paris to deliver the ship, which has already undergone sea tests.

Paris agreed in 2011 to build and sell the two assault ships to Russia, with the first originally scheduled for delivery in October or November and the second in 2015.

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