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The French foreign minister has warned that his government is looking to cancel a 1.4 billion euro deal to deliver two Mistral-class warships to the Russian Navy.
In the interview with France’s TF1, Laurent Fabius said Moscow must take urgent measures to avoid “useless and dangerous” escalation in Ukraine.
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.
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.
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.
In a telephone conversation with his US counterpart Barack Obama on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the Crimea referendum was “organised in such a way as to guarantee Crimea’s population the possibility to freely express their will and exercise their right to self-determination”.
“Regarding the March 16 referendum in Crimea, Mr Putin said that the decision to hold the referendum was in line with international law and the UN Charter, and was also in line with the precedent set by Kosovo,” said a Kremlin statement.
Meanwhile, India has said Moscow has “legitimate” interests in Ukraine and they should be discussed to find a satisfactory solution to the issue.
“We are watching what is happening in Ukraine with concern… The broader issues of reconciling various interests involved and there are, after all, legitimate Russian and other interests involved and we hope those are discussed, negotiated and there is a satisfactory resolution to them,” Indian National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon said earlier in March.
TBP and Agencies