France says Russia warship depends on peace in Ukraine
President Francois Hollande on Thursday said that France will only complete delivery to Russia of a sophisticated naval ship if peace is established in Ukraine.
"We need to do all we can for a ceasefire, but a real ceasefire that will then lead to a political solution," Hollande told reporters during a NATO summit in Wales.
"It could be in November, but the conditions have to be in place.... What are the conditions? A ceasefire and a political agreement," he said.
Hollande rejected comments made by a French diplomatic source on Wednesday that France had come under pressure from allies to suspend the contract to Russia, which NATO accuses of directly stoking an insurgency against neighbouring Ukraine.
"I did not feel pressure of any sort from anywhere," he said.
"I told the Russians that we want this contract to go ahead and for the warship to be delivered -- the first one will soon be ready," he said.
"It is not possible to deliver one or two ships in conditions that are not peaceful," he said, adding: "How can I authorise the delivery of a ship that tomorrow could be used in war?"
Paris agreed in 2011 to build and sell the two advanced helicopter assault ships to Russia for a total of 1.2 billion euros ($1.6 billion), with the first scheduled for delivery in October or November and the second in 2015.
However, France has now frozen the delivery of the first warship "until November."
© 2014 AFP