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Hollande To Decide Soon Fate Of Russian Mistral Carriers

French President Francois Hollande said that he would decide "in the coming weeks" whether or not to scrap a contentious contract to supply two warships to Russia.

The fate of the two Mistral helicopter carriers has plagued France-Russia ties ever since Paris put the 1.2-billion-euro deal on hold a year ago after the West slapped sanctions on Moscow over its annexation of Crimea and backing for separatist rebels in Ukraine.

"We have contractual obligations," Hollande said July 27. "We are in a discussion...which will require a decision that I have to the coming weeks."

The first ship was due for delivery in 2014, while the second was to be delivered this year.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has played down the importance of the 2011 deal and claimed that Russia ordered them mostly to help the French shipyard.

The Kremlin has, however, made clear Moscow would like its money back.

According to Russian newspaper Kommersant, France has offered to terminate the Mistral contract and pay back 785 million euros to Moscow, provided Paris can re-export the vessels.

Based on reporting by AFP, Bloomberg, and TASS

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