The Elysee announced Sunday that French President Sarkozy and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin will sign the Mistral contract in Saint-Nazaire today.
InoSMI.ru and Militaryparitet.com provided the story from Le Point.
Sarkozy and Sechin will inspect the Mistral and Tonnerre, as well as the Dixmude, which is still under construction.
Le Point says the Mistral deal was originally entrusted to oligarch shipbuilder Sergey Pugachev and his holding company United Industrial Corporation (OPK), and rumors circulated about French and / or Russian middlemen receiving commissions for brokering it. Ultimately, Russia’s United Shipbuilding Corporation (OSK) — headed by Sechin — took over negotiations with Paris.
Le Point claims the Russians asked the French to provide Link 11 and Link 16 combat information systems along with Mistral. The French demurred, saying transferring these NATO systems required the agreement of all 27 alliance members. Moscow reportedly persisted as recently as the NATO-Russia Lisbon Summit, saying this equipment would support its participation in joint operations with NATO. Its request is formally being studied, but won’t be approved, according to Le Point.