Second Russian Mistral warship nears launch in French shipyard
The second Mistral warship being built for Russia by French shipbuilders was placed in the dock in Brittany's Saint-Nazaire shipyard on Thursday night. Moscow is demanding delivery of the ships but France is under pressure to withhold them as part of international sanctions over the Ukraine conflict.
The Sebastopol was moved overnight to a fitting-out dock to be completed, while its sister ship, Vladivostok headed towards the exit of the harbour.
The Vladivostok should have been delivered to Russia on 14 November, following a 1.2-billion-euro deal signed in 2011 but international pressures on France due to the Ukraine crisis have delayed the handover.
"I will take my decision without any pressure, wherever it may come from, and based on two criteria - the interests of France and the appreciation I have of the situation," said President François Hollande after the G20 summit on Sunday, adding that the contract had not been broken.
Moscow has said it is ready to wait until the end of November but will claim compensation if the delivery has not taken place by then.