Robert HARNEIS -TDO- President Nicolas Sarkozy of France caused raised eyebrows in NATO when in 2011 he agreed to allow the supply of two Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia. His successor François Holland shocked the defense world when in June 2016, he cancelled the contract after Moscow allowed Crimea to rejoin the Russian Federation. He did so reluctantly under pressure from NATO allies aware of the damage he was doing to the reputation for reliability of the French defense industry.

Now the Russians are to build their own versions of the Mistral according to the news agency Tass. Ironically it is likely that the ships will be built at the port of Kerch in the Crimea. The first ship is to be laid down in 2020 and completed in 2027.

Accordiing to Russian defense expert Colonel Mikhail Khodarionok the ships will reinforce the Russian fleet which has no modern vessels capable of supporting land operations with modern systems.

The French government not only made itself ridiculous by going back on a contract but also had to refund Russia some 959 million Euros. Compensation was also paid. The then Russian Deputy Prime Minister, Rogozin, responsible for defence procurement was quietly satisfied by the transaction as the compensation amounted to three times what the Russians had originally dispersed owing to the heavy fall in the Rouble after the Ukrainian crisis.

The Russian navy also acquired considerable technical expertise through the transfer of technology and the training of 400 Russian sailors in France before the French contract was cancelled. This knowledge will go to towards the construction of the Russian version of the Mistrals.

The commencement of construction of the warships coincides with final completion date for the rail link across the Kerch Straits facilitating the delivery of materials for construction.

The original French Mistrals destined for Russia were finally sold to the Egyptian navy.