21st Mar 2019

Russia indicates French warship deal is dead

  • Russia 'won't be taking' the warships (Photo:

A senior Russian official has indicated the deal to buy two high-tech French warships has been definitively abandoned.

Oleg Bochkarev, the deputy chairman of the Russian Military-Industrial Commission, told media on Tuesday (26 May), in remarks reported by the state-onwed Tass agency: “Russia won't be taking them, that's a fact”.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

“There’s just a single discussion underway at the moment - on the amount of money that should be returned to Russia”.

He added that Russia will instead develop its own amphibious assault vessels as part of a broader shift away from Western defence contracts.

The warships, called Mistrals, were sold after Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2008, but before its invasion of Ukraine last year.

Dubbed “instruments of destabilisation” of the EU’s eastern neighbourhood by hawkish EU diplomats, they became a symbol of France’s reluctance to show solidarity on EU sanctions.

When member states imposed economic measures last summer, France made sure the arms embargo only covers new, but not existing contracts.

In September, president Francois Hollande bowed to US and German pressure and put the deal on hold.

Since then, France and Russia have been negotiating on how to dissolve the deal in an amicable way.

Russia has already paid France €800 million of the €1.2 billion price tag and sent hundreds of sailors to train in the French port of St. Nazaire.

Russian newspaper Kommersant reported earlier this month that France is ready to refund the €800 million, but wants permission from Russia to sell the ships to someone else.

But it said Russia is seeking €1.163 billion for “expenditures and losses” related to the ruptured contract.

EPP suspends Orban's Fidesz party

In a compromise decision, Europe's centre-right grouping stops short of expelling Hungary's ruling party - which has been accused of rolling back democracy and the rule of law.


Macron is confusing rigidity with strength

Jan Zahradil, EU Commission president Spitzenkandidat for the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, responds to Emmaneul Macron's European vision ahead of the May elections.

May tosses Brexit spanner into EU machinery

The UK is seeking a three-month delay to leave in the European Union. But its 30 June deadline is a major headache given the European elections in May. The European Commission is demanding EU summit leaders reject May's proposal.

Centre-right EPP faces showdown with Orban

The EU's largest political alliance, the EPP, will try to put the 'Orban issue' behind it going into the European election campaign. Hungary's ruling party, Fidesz, could be expelled or suspended from the political family.


The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.


All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Latest News

  1. EPP suspends Orban's Fidesz party
  2. Macron is confusing rigidity with strength
  3. May tosses Brexit spanner into EU machinery
  4. Centre-right EPP faces showdown with Orban
  5. A compromise proposal for the Article 50 extension
  6. US glyphosate verdict gives ammunition to EU activists
  7. Have a good reason for Brexit extension, Barnier tells UK
  8. EU countries push for new rule of law surveillance

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us