SEVASTOPOL, September 12 (RIA Novosti)
Russian Black Sea Fleet is ready to homeport Mistral-class ships, the development of the naval infrastructure is underway, acting Sevastopol governor told RIA Novosti on Friday.
"I think that the Black Sea Fleet is prepared to homeport Mistral ships. The Defense Ministry plans to develop infrastructure for the fleet. There will be reconstruction and infrastructure development," the former deputy commander of the Black Sea Fleet, Vice-Admiral Sergei Menyailo said.
The official said that the Sevastopol base is already prepared to receive six Admiral Grigorovich-class frigates and six Varshavyanka-class submarines.
The Novorossiysk base is not yet ready to receive submarines, as it is currently still under construction. The plan was to use this base for the placement of the task force that was unable to enter Crimea as at the time the agreement with Ukraine on the Black Sea Fleet was still in force. Since the agreement no longer exists, the Russian Navy will decide on the need for any possible changes, Menyailo said.
Russia and France signed a $1.6 billion deal for two Mistral-class ships in June 2011. The first carrier, the Vladivostok, was expected in Russia by the end of 2014. The second ship, the Sevastopol, was supposed to arrive in 2015.
However, the completion of the deal has been at risk since Western countries imposed sanctions against Russia over its alleged role in the escalation of the crisis in Ukraine.
Moscow has repeatedly stressed that it is not involved in the Ukrainian conflict, referring to the language of sanctions as being "counterproductive," and saying that such measures "threaten international peace and stability."