Russia has warned France of “serious” consequences should Paris fail to deliver a Mistral-class assault warship by the end of the month, a report says.
The Russian state news agency RIA Novosti published the report on Friday, quoting an anonymous high-ranking Moscow source.
The source told the state-run agency that “We are waiting until the end of the month, then we will lodge serious claims.”
The first of two Mistral helicopter carriers were supposed to be delivered on Friday; however, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drain said a day earlier that “no delivery date can be fixed at this stage.”
The original deal for the two vessels worth 1.2 billion euros (USD 1.5 billion) was signed in 2011. The handover of the first warship was due in September; however, it was delayed amid the crisis in Ukraine.
France has come under pressure from the United States and NATO to cancel the contract with Russia. According to reports, Western allies have said France must make sacrifices to meet its commitment to oppose Russia through bans over the Ukraine crisis.
If France decides not to deliver the two Mistral helicopter vessels, Paris faces a penalty reaching USD 3 billion to Russia for the non-delivery.
Tensions between Russia and the West heightened after Ukraine’s Black Sea peninsula of Crimea joined the Russian Federation following a referendum in March.
Relations were strained further after Ukraine launched military operations in mid-April to silence pro-Russia protests in the country’s mainly Russian-speaking regions in the east.
The US and the EU have accused Russia of destabilizing Ukraine and have slapped a number of sanctions against Russian and pro-Russia figures. Moscow, however, rejects the accusation.