The contract cancelation was a mistake, because in reality nothing legally obliged France to freeze the deal, as the contract was signed before the EU introduced the embargo on the delivery of military equipment to Russia, Mariani told Sputnik in an exclusive interview.
Furthermore, the Mistral-class helicopter carriers are not even combat ships, but vessels used for logistical support. That is why it was “totally stupid” to link the Mistral-deal with the Ukrainian crisis, Mariani said.
The former Minister of Transportation also added that France has no right to sell the Mistrals made for Russia to other countries.
“Some parts of the vessels were manufactured in Russia… So it’s obvious that the ships can’t be sold without an agreement from Russia. May France sell the ships whomever it pleases? In my opinion, no!” — said the politician.
But even if Russia allows France to re-sell the ships after the trade dispute is over, it won’t be that easy for Paris to find potential buyers for the Mistrals. The French Navy said they won’t need extra Mistrals, as they already have three in service. Other than that, no parties so far were interested in purchasing the Mistrals, Mariani said.In 2011, Russia and France signed the 1.3 billion euros Mistral deal. Paris was supposed to handover the first Mistral to Moscow in November 2014. However, French President Francois Hollande decided to suspend the delivery, citing Russia’s alleged involvement in the Ukrainian crisis, a claim denied by Moscow.
Earlier this week, it was reported that Russia gave up on the arms deal. Now the two countries are working on the amount of money that Paris should pay Moscow for the failed contract. There was information that France offered to refund Russia 785 million euros. However, the amount is much less that the actual sum that Paris must pay back. The 785 million euros refund does not even cover the amount that Russia had already paid.