France cancels Mistral warships delivery to Russia over Ukraine crisis
France has decided to stop the delivery of the first of two Mistral navy assault ships to Russia over Ukraine crisis.
President Francois Hollande’s office blamed Moscow’s recent actions in Ukraine.
France had until now resisted pressure to halt the delivery.
It has said conditions are “not right” for delivery as it needed to respect an existing contract, to which EU sanctions could not apply retroactively, and that it would have been too costly to cancel.
The Vladivostok, the first of the two helicopter carriers, was expected to have been delivered to Russia by late October.
The second, the Sevastopol, was to have been sent next year, although no mention of it was made in Francois Hollande’s statement.
Francois Hollande’s office said today’s remarks by the Russian and Ukrainian presidents about a possible cease-fire were not enough to allow France to give it the go-ahead.
“The president of the republic has concluded that despite the prospect of ceasefire, which has yet to be confirmed and put in place, the conditions under which France could authorize the delivery of the first helicopter carrier are not in place,” it said in a statement.
Earlier on Wednesday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he had agreed a “cease-fire process” with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
Vladimir Putin said he hoped a peace deal could be reached by Friday, when representatives of Russia, Ukraine and the rebels meet in Minsk for talks
The pro-Russian rebels have said they support Vladimir Putin’s proposals, but that they do not trust Petro Poroshenko to maintain a ceasefire.
It is not clear whether any truce is being observed on the ground.
Meanwhile, in Estonia, President Barack Obama sought to reassure the Baltic states that they would be protected by NATO, and said that Washington would stand by Ukraine.