France now has two helicopter-carrier warships worth €1.2bn sitting idle because Russia won't buy them

Russia has said there is only one discussion left to have: ‘The amount of money that should be returned’

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The Independent Online

Two French-built warships worth €1.2 billion have been left sitting unused after rising tensions between the West and Russia killed the deal that would have seen the ships sold to Putin’s navy.

The tensions were caused over Russia’s actions in Ukraine, and while France’s delivery of the ships has not been formally cancelled, it has been suspended indefinitely, with Russia’s deputy head of the Military Industrial Commission stating that the navy will not be accepting the helicopter carriers.

“That Russia won’t take [the ships] – that’s a fait accompli,” Oleg Bochkaryov, told the Daily Kommersant. “There is only one discussion going on now: the amount of money that should be returned to Russia,” he added.

Moscow’s decision has left Paris trying to negotiate a face-saving compromise and work out what to do with the warships, which currently cost €5m a month to maintain.


A source close to the matter told Reuters News Agency: “There are three possibilities: deliver the boats to Russia, sell them to someone else or destroy them”.

A further issue has arisen though a claim made by Russia’s senior defence ministry official Yuryu Yakubov, who said the ships have been built to specific Russian navy requirements, making it a “matter of state security” strong enough to block the sale of the ships to another country instead.

Reuters reports that France’s Nato allies, particularly the US and Poland, would also be outraged if President Holland attempted to re-negotiate the deal while the crisis in Ukraine is on-going.

Russia will be able to demand a full refund in addition to penalties for pulling the deal. Sources told Reuters it wants a total of €1.163bn to cover the money it has already paid towards the ships – around €800m – and compensation for the money it has sped on equipment and training sailors.

General Christian Quesnot, chief military adviser to President Hollande's mentor, the late president Francois Mitterrand, said: "The cheapest thing would be to sink them."

 Additional reporting by Reuters