MOSCOW --- Paris will consider canceling a 1.4-billion-euro deal to deliver two Mistral-class warships to the Russian Navy if Moscow provokes further escalation in Ukraine, the French foreign minister has said.
In the interview with France’s TF1, Laurent Fabius denied the legitimacy of Sunday’s referendum in Crimea to join Russia and urged Moscow to take urgent measures to avoid “useless and dangerous” escalation in Ukraine.
The first French Mistral-class amphibious assault ship, named Vladivostok, capable of deploying helicopters and tanks, was due to arrive in Russia by the year-end under a June 2011 contract signed between Russia and France.
A second Mistral-class warship, the Sevastopol, is due to arrive in 2015 and become part of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet headquartered in Crimea.
"If Putin carries on like this, we could consider canceling these sales,” Fabius said Monday adding that the possible loss of the contracts could be negative for the French economy.
The French foreign minister said such move would be part of “phase three” of economic sanctions against Moscow. “Now we are at phase two,” he said.
Fabius emphasized that the sanctions must affect everyone and urged the United Kingdom to “do something equivalent with the assets of the Russian oligarchs in London.”
The remarks came after US and EU imposed sanctions Monday on senior Russian officials following a referendum in Ukraine's Crimea in which voters overwhelmingly supported secession and reunification with Russia.
Those named on the US and EU lists of sanctions are banned from entry into the US and EU member states and their financial assets will be frozen.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier this month sanctions against Russia would cause mutual damage in the modern world, when everything is interconnected and everybody depends on each other.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said, in March 18 postings on his Twitter account, that “we want to do all we can to avoid suspending delivery of the three helicopter carriers built at Saint Nazaire,” later adding “on the one hand, we cannot envisage delivering weapons to Russia and, on the other hand, there is the reality of employment.”)