Russian Interest in France’s Mistral Ship

France's Mistral class ship

France's Mistral class ship

PARIS – Russia has shown interest in buying a helicopter landing ship from France, marking a possible shift in Moscow’s defense procurement thinking, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense said Sept. 3.

“Russia has expressed official interest in acquiring a Mistral class ship,” Laurent Teisseire told journalists at a weekly briefing. Russia’s interest was “extremely general,” he said.

France has two Mistral-class command and projection ships in service and ordered a third vessel this summer, as part of a defense stimulus package. A fourth ship is due to be ordered in the next decade.

Russia is a large arms exporter, rather than a buyer of foreign weapons, so the interest showed a potential change in policy, Teisseire said.

MiG-AT fast jet trainer

MiG-AT fast jet trainer

French firms have cooperated with Russia on past defense projects, including work on the MiG-AT fast jet trainer, Teisseire said.

Gen. Nikolai Makarov, chief of the Russian General Staff, said Aug. 26 that the Russian military would negotiate with the French Defense Ministry and an unnamed French shipbuilding company to buy a Mistral-class helicopter carrier. Russian shipyards would then produce three or four additional carriers with French help, he said.

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