[...] Dmitry Shchugorev: We have Dmitry Abzalov here, the president of the Center for Strategic Communications. Please, go ahead.
Dmitry Abzalov: Good afternoon, Mr Putin. I have this nagging question about Mistral ships. This week, the second ship was tested and left for the French shipyard. What are the prospects? Will we push for having these ships delivered to us? Will we seek financing? In general, what will our military and economic partnership with the European Union and France, in particular, be like after what happened a year ago?
Vladimir Putin: The refusal to deliver ships under the existing contract is, of course, a bad sign. However, frankly speaking, it’s of little consequence for us or our defence capability. We signed these contracts primarily to support our partners and offer work to their shipyard. We planned to use the ships in the Far East. For us, this is not critical.
However, I believe that the leadership of France – and the French people in general – are honourable people and will return the money. We are not even going to demand any penalties or exorbitant fines, but we want all of our costs covered. This certainly means that the reliability of our partners – who, acting as part of the military-political bloc, in this case NATO, have lost some of their sovereignty – has suffered, and is now questionable. Of course, we will keep this in mind as we continue our military and technical cooperation.
Kirill Kleymenov: Our partners may find that it was an easy way for them to get off the hook.
Vladimir Putin: That’s all right, we’ll survive. [...]