The Vladivostok Mistral Classe carrier at the docks in Saint-Nazaire, France

Russia to demand reparations if French carriers not delivered

Russia has threatened to demand compensation if France doesn’t deliver the first of two Mistral helicopter carriers by the end of November.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said last month on his Twitter account that Russian officials had been invited to France for a handover ceremony due to take place today, but French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian had denied this saying that conditions for the sale were not in place.

State news agency RIA said today that the Russian delegation due to take part in a ceremony to transfer the first ship in the €1.2bn (£940m) deal had stayed home and no new date for a handover had been set.

"We are preparing for various scenarios. We will wait until the end of the month (for the fulfilment of the Mistral contract) then we will announce some serious claims," said an unnamed source, quoted by RIA.

Russian arms exporter Rosoboron export, which Rogozin said had been invited to France, did not respond immediately to a request for comment, but the source said analysts were looking at various amounts of monetary compensation.

"The sum will not be secret," the source was quoted as saying.

A 400-strong Russian crew has been manning the ship – which can hold up to 16 helicopters, four landing barges, 70 vehicles and 450 soldiers – since June to undergo training on its operation and carry out sea trials.

The second carrier, named Sebastopol after the Crimean seaport, is supposed to be delivered by 2016.

The deal for the two carriers will give Russia access to advanced technology, which has alarmed some of France’s Nato allies. Europe and the US have imposed numerous rounds of sanctions on Russia for its role in eastern Ukraine, and France has faced pressure from other EU members and the US to freeze the sale

But there are as many as 1,000 defence jobs at stake in France and President Francois Hollande said in early September that the Mistral contract had not been broken or suspended.

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