PARIS (Reuters) - The scrapping of a deal to sell two Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia should cost French taxpayers no more than 250 million euros ($280 million), a Senate report said on Tuesday.
France canceled the sale, originally agreed in 2011, because of Russia’s role in the Ukraine crisis. The carriers, known as the Swiss army knife of the French armed forces because of their versatility, will instead be sold to Egypt for 950 million euros.
“Excluding the sale (to Egypt), the French state will have to cover costs of around 1.1 billion euros,” the report said. “If the deal with Egypt goes through though, the cost may be reduced to 200 to 250 million euros.”
The government has said that the budget will not suffer any financial loss from the cancellation of the contract, but this has been questioned by some media and politicians.
Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine last year and has been accused by Kiev and Western governments of supplying arms and troops to help separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine, though it denies the charge.
Reporting by Matthias Blamont