- Putin to discuss Mistral, investment projects, energy in France
- French Mistral warship to visit Russia November 23
Russia has yet to make a final decision on whether to buy a Mistral-class helicopter carrier from France, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Friday.
"No decision has yet been made on the purchase of a Mistral," he said.
Asked whether he could guarantee the warships in question would not be used against Georgia, Putin said it was up to Russia to decide where or how to use its own weapons.
Responding to the same question, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said Mistral ships "mainly perform logistic functions."
"We are currently in the final stages of negotiations with the Russian government," he said.
Russia is seeking to buy one of the amphibious assault ships, worth 400-500 million euros, and the Mistral ship arrived in St. Petersburg on Monday to be shown off to military personnel and the public.
A new warship could be built at the civil STX shipyard in France in partnership with the French naval shipbuilder DCNS.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said on October 1 that France would sell Russia a warship if the two countries were able to reach an agreement. He did not elaborate on what kind of political accord or agreement was involved.
Russian Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin said in late September that Russia was seeking technology to boost its shipbuilding industry by buying the ship.
He added that Russian shipbuilders strongly opposed the deal.
A Mistral-class ship is capable of transporting and deploying 16 helicopters, four landing barges, up to 70 vehicles including 13 battle tanks, and 450 soldiers. The vessel is equipped with a 69-bed hospital and can be used as an amphibious command ship.
Gen. Nikolai Makarov, the chief of the Russian General Staff, said in August that Russia had plans to buy three or four ships of the same class to be jointly built in Russia.
RAMBOUILLET, November 27 (RIA Novosti)
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.