France will not use a $1.2 billion contract to build Mistral class amphibious assault ships for the Russian Navy to put pressure on Moscow over the Syrian issue, the country’s foreign minister said on Wednesday.
The West is pushing for President Bashar al-Assad’s ouster, while Russia and China are trying to prevent outside interference in Syria, saying the Assad regime and the opposition are both to blame for the bloodshed. Russia and China have blocked three UN resolutions on Syria.
In an interview with the France Inter radio station, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said his country “is putting pressure on Russia only in the diplomatic dimension.”
“We continue negotiations with Russians, we must find a solution [on Syria]. To achieve some progress, we discuss it in parallel with the Arab states, with our neighbors and the Russians,” he said.
He also said that French military equipment must not be sold to third states.
“If we learn about reselling, we will end all future supplies,” Fabius said.
Russia and France signed the contract for two French-built Mistral class ships, including the transfer of sensitive technology, in June 2011. Two more ships are expected to be 80% built in Russia, 20% in France.
The first Mistral class warship is expected to be put in service with the Russian Navy in three years.
A Mistral-class ship is capable of carrying 16 helicopters, four landing vessels, 70 armored vehicles, and 450 personnel.
The Russian military has said it plans to use Mistral ships in its Northern and Pacific fleets.