Paris (AFP) - France's foreign minister Tuesday said the conditions were not right to deliver a high-tech warship to Russia given the Ukraine crisis, as pressure from Moscow grows to hand over the vessel.
"We consider that the conditions for delivery are not met, for reasons that are obvious today," Laurent Fabius told France Inter radio.
Russia has reportedly warned Paris of "serious" consequences unless France delivers the first of two Mistral-class helicopter carriers on order by the end of November.
But Fabius declined to comment on when the exact deadline was, saying it was "fixed by the contract" without giving more details.
"On the Russian side, there is an unacceptable direct or indirect presence on the side of the separatists but on the Ukrainian side there are unacceptable declarations as well," said the minister, referring to Kiev's stated wish to join the NATO.
The first of two mammoth Mistral-class assault ships was supposed to be delivered earlier this month according to the original deal signed in 2011.
But amid this year's Ukraine crisis and the rapid decline in the West's relations with Russia, France has come under intense pressure from its allies, particularly the United States, and in September postponed the delivery.