Arab Today, arab today hollande sale of warships to russia still on for now
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Hollande: Sale of warships to Russia still on for now

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Hollande: Sale of warships to Russia still on for now

Stralsund - AFP

French President Francois Hollande said Saturday thesale of two Mistral warships to Russia would continue "for now" despite the West'sworsening relations with Moscow over the Ukraine crisis."The contract was signed in 2011, it is being carried out and will be completed bynext October," said Hollande during a press briefing in Germany, where he met withChancellor Angela Merkel.Their two-day talks had focused on the situation in Ukraine and they called on bothKiev and Moscow to ensure nothing interferes with crucial presidential elections, setfor May 25.But Moscow's annexation of Crimea in March and the West's fears that other regionsof east Ukraine could also join Russia has touched off the worst east-westdiplomatic row since the end of the Cold War.On Thursday, the United States again voiced concern about the 1.2 billion-euro($1.65 billion) sale of the French warships to Russia as Washington mulled imposingmore sanctions on the regime of President Vladimir Putin. "We have regularly and consistently expressed our concerns about this sale evenbefore we had the latest Russian actions and we will continue to do so," AssistantSecretary for Europe Victoria Nuland told US lawmakers ahead of a visit next weekto Washington by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.In March, Fabius had said that Paris could "cancel the sale" if Russia did not changeits policy toward Ukraine following the ouster in February of a pro-Kremlin president and the rise of a new pro-West government in Kiev.The first of the Mistral warships is due to be delivered in October and the secondone, slated for Russia's Black Sea fleet based in Sebastopol on the Crimeanpeninsula, in 2015.The Mistral is an advanced helicopter assault ship and France's agreement to sellthem to Russia had previously triggered protests not only from the US but alsoother NATO allies.

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