After cancelling the sale to Russia, France finds itself lumbered with two giant Mistral warships which it will find “extremely difficult” to re-sell and cannot afford to keep, say experts.
The pair of 200-metre (650-foot) amphibious helicopter-carriers were due for delivery to Russia by the end of this year in a deal worth an estimated 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion).
Instead, they are docked in the western French port at St Nazaire after Paris put the deal on ice in response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine last year.
The deal was formally cancelled on Wednesday, and within hours French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said “several” countries had expressed an interest in buying the ships, without giving details.
“It’s desirable that we sell them as quickly as possible,” he told RTL radio.
But experts say France will have its work cut out in offloading them.