Moscow: Russia does not plan to deploy Mistral-class helicopter carriers in the Black Sea, Russian Navy said Wednesday, Xinhua reported. "There are no corrections to the earlier plans to deploy the Mistral-class helicopter carriers with the Pacific Fleet. No decisions to deploy these vessels in Black Sea have been made," Interfax news agency quoted a navy representative as saying.
Earlier, some media reports said that the French-made Mistral-class ship will be assigned to the Black Sea fleet in 2017. The Mistral-class ship is capable of carrying 16 helicopters, four landing vessels, 70 armored vehicles and 450 personnel.
The navy said it was too early to speak about exact time of Mistrals' entering service. "To equip Mistrals with arms, to carry out tests, to train personnel will take rather long time," it said.
Only after the ships are fully ready to service, the final decision about the place of their permanent deployment could be made, according to the representative.
Russia signed a $1.58 billion deal with a French shipyard in 2011 for two Mistral-class ships, the first one is due for delivery in 2014 and the second in 2015.
Last Monday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said a possible annulment of the contract was among the sanctions against Russia over its Crimea absorption. He said Paris might take this step in the event of further escalation of the situation in Ukraine.