France Says Sale of Warships to Russia ‘Imminent’

The signing of a contract for France to sell four Mistral-class aircraft carriers to Russia is “imminent,” a French defense ministry spokesman said June 16.

The comment by deputy spokesman Philippe Ponties came ahead of a visit by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to the Le Bourget air show in Paris, which opens on June 20.

“I do not know where or when, but I can confirm that the signing is imminent,” Ponties told reporters.

The two countries said in May they were poised to seal the deal after long and delicate negotiations over the price and the sharing of technology involved in the amphibious assault craft.

The deal has angered some of Russia’s neighbors such as Georgia and Baltic states who fear an expansion of the military might of their former Soviet master.