Putin dismisses France's non-delivery of warships
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that France's refusal to deliver two Mistral-class helicopter carriers to Moscow over the Ukraine crisis would not affect its defence capabilities.
"Of course not delivering the ships according to a valid contract is a bad sign, but from the point of view of supporting our defence capabilities, to tell you frankly, this has no importance."
Putin said the main reason Moscow signed the 1.2 billion euro deal for the two massive ships in 2011 was to show goodwill and give jobs to France's Saint-Nazare shipyard on the Atlantic.
"We signed these contracts at the time primarily to support our partners and to give work to their shipyard, though in principle were planning to use (the warships) in the far east," Putin said in the course of his annual phone-in session with the nation.
France was due to deliver the first warship last year but the deal was put on ice after Russia's annexation of Crimea and the resultant sanctions against Moscow by the European Union.
"For us it is not critical," he said, though adding he expects France to return the money.
"I am counting on France... to return our money. We are not planning to demand any penalties or exhorbitant fines, but all expenses should be returned," he said.
"Of course this shows that the reliability of our partners... is in question, and we will take that into account in future cooperation."
© 2015 AFP