expensive rust buckets...
PARIS — For sale: two French-built helicopter carriers, tested by Russians. Buy now for only 1.2 billion euros. Shipping extra.
Tensions between the West and Russia over Ukraine have blocked a deal in which Moscow was to buy the ships, leaving Paris trying to negotiate a face-saving compromise and work out what to do with two unwanted warships.
"There are three possibilities: deliver the boats to Russia, sell them to someone else or destroy them," said a source close to the matter.
It is an embarrassment that is not of French President Francois Hollande's making. The deal stems from his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy's decision in 2011 to make the West's first major foreign arms sale to Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union.
But it will be difficult for Hollande politically and underlines the difficulty for France to reconcile its ambitions as a global arms supplier — a sector on which thousands of French jobs depend — with commitments to NATO allies.
It may also be very costly.
At present the delivery of the ships remains indefinitely suspended rather than formally cancelled. But even Russian officials say now that they are not interested in taking the Mistral-class carriers.
Moreover France's NATO allies, notably the United States and Poland — with whom Paris is negotiating 6 billion euros ($6.7 billion) of defense deals — would be outraged if France tried to get the deal back on track with the crisis in Ukraine far from resolved.
That leaves the Russians demanding not only a full refund but also the penalties that go for pulling the deal.
"That Russia won't take them [the ships] — that's a fait accompli," Oleg Bochkaryov, deputy head of Russia's Military Industrial Commission, told daily Kommersant last week. "There is only one discussion going on now: the amount of money that should be returned to Russia."read more: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/business/article/russia-pitchpoles-france-with-mistral-warship-renunciation/523147.html