Hollande to decide on Russia warship deal 'in weeks'
French President Francois Hollande said on Monday that he would decide "in the coming weeks" whether or not to scrap a contentious contract to supply two warships to Russia.
The fate of the two Mistral helicopter carriers has plagued France-Russia ties for more than a year, following the decision by Paris to put the 1.2-billion-euro ($1.3-billion) deal on ice as the West slapped sanctions on Moscow over its annexation of Crimea and alleged backing for separatist rebels in Ukraine.
"We have contractual obligations," Hollande told reporters on Monday, referring to the deal.
"We are in a discussion... which will require a decision that I have to take, and I will take in the coming weeks."
The first ship was due for delivery in 2014, while the second was to be delivered this year.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has played down the importance of the 2011 deal and claimed that Russia ordered them mostly to help the French shipyard.
The Kremlin strongman has, however, made clear Moscow would still like its money back.
According to Russian newspaper Kommersant, France has offered to terminate the Mistral contract and pay back 785 million euros to Moscow, provided Paris can re-export the vessels.
While Kommersant reported France is proposing to return only the cash that was paid so far on the deal, Russia would like to have other expenses reimbursed, such as training costs for the crews and building port infrastructure in Vladivostok, where the first of the two ships was to be based.
© 2015 AFP