A controversial deal that would see France supply Russia with two Mistral-class amphibious assault ships has just suffered a major blow, as the western European country announced it will not deliver the first ship – the Vladivostok, shown above – citing the security threat posed following months of Russian belligerence.

France has faced pressure over the $1.7-billion deal for years, according to The Washington Post. But it's been within the past several months, following alleged Russian incursions into Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea, that NATO opposition to the sale reached a crescendo. The Post reports that as early as Monday, France was still planning on going ahead with the sale. But yesterday, officials issued a statement saying the delivery was off.

"The recent actions by Russia in eastern Ukraine are contrary to the basic notions of security in Europe," the statement said, according to The Post.

"The president noted that, despite the plan for a cease-fire that still must be confirmed and implemented, the conditions for France to allow the delivery of the first BPC are not there," French President Francois Hollande's office told Stars and Stripes, in an emailed statement. BPC, in this case, refers to the French abbreviation for the assault ships.

For those not in the know, the Mistral-class is roughly analogous to America's Wasp-class amphibious ships, in that they're capable of hauling up to 900 soldiers, 35 helicopters and launching four landing craft (not to mention their significant hospital and command and control facilities). The difference between the French and American vessels, though, is that the Marine Nationale can field the 21,000-ton vessels with a relative skeleton crew of just 160 sailors and 20 officers, thanks to automation, which makes these capital ships significantly easier to field.

For more on the deal and the Mistral-class in general, check out Foxtrot Alpha's in-depth analysis from last weekend.


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