Lithuania's Defence Minister Juozas Olekas has welcomed the decision of the French president not to hand over two Mistral warships to Russia.
Juozas Olekas
© DELFI / Šarūnas Mažeika

"We applaud the French decision. The decision announced by the French president is in line with Lithuania's interests," Olekas told BNS in a telephone interview from Wales on Wednesday.

The minister spoke shortly after French President François Hollande announced that conditions were "not right" for delivery of the first of two Mistral navy assault ships to Russia.

Under the 1.2-billion-euro contract signed in 2011, France has to sell two Mistral navy ships to Russia, with the first one to be delivered to Russia this October and the second one in 2015.

Eastern European countries and the United States had repeatedly urged France to suspend the contract in response to Russia's support to pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine.

Asked by BNS whether Mistral sales would have threatened Lithuania, Olekas replied that the danger would have probably been indirect: "Directly we would not expect it [the Mistral ship] to enter the Baltic Sea and directly threaten Lithuania, however, upgrade of Russia's military capacities and possible blackmailing or aggression against our allies and partners would, without a doubt, affect Lithuania's security as well."

BNS
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