Kremlin sacks Russian navy chief heading Mistral talks

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev Tuesday dismissed a top navy commander who led negotiations with France on the purchase of Mistral-class assault warships.

Medvedev did not explain the decision to relieve Vice Admiral Nikolai Borisov of his post but a top military analyst said it appeared linked to the Mistral talks.

The two sides were reported last to be split on a price, with Russia agreeing to pay no more than $980 million and France asking for at least $1.15 billion.

The Russian state television channel Vesti reported Tuesday that Borisov had personally approved the higher sum before being reprimanded by the government.

Russia and France signed the landmark agreement in January but never disclosed the price, with the deal immediately being lashed by some of France's partners in NATO as well as several former Soviet republics.

The deal involves Russia's purchase of two warships and subsequent construction with France's help of two additional vessels.

Russia's defense ministry has already announced possible plans to station at least one of the warships at the Kuril islands, a Pacific archipelago whose southernmost islands are also claimed by Japan.

© 2011 AFP

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