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Mistral warship to visit Russia

 France's Mistral amphibious assault ship will arrive on an official visit to St. Petersburg on November 23, a senior Russian Navy official today told to RIA Novosti. 

This visit arrives, when Russia is seeking to purchase a Mistral-class helicopter carrier worth €400-500 million. during the visit, the Russian Navy and national defence industry experts will receive the opportunity to inspect the vessel.

Paris said in mid-October it had decided to start official negotiations on the sale of a Mistralwarship to Russia. France indicated it would formulate its terms and the further course of negotiations would depend on Moscow's response. A final decision is expected in mid-November at the latest.

Oleg Burtsev, first deputy chief of the Russian Navy Main Staff confirmed Moscow's plans last Saturday to buy one Mistral-class warship and build another four in Russia under French licensing.

The first warship will be built at the STX shipyard in France in partnership with the French shipbuilder DCNS.

A Mistral-class ship is capable of transporting and deploying 16 helicopters, four landing barges, up to 70 vehicles, including 13 battle tanks, as well as 450 military personnel. The vessel is equipped with a 69-bed hospital and can be used as an amphibious command ship.

The Russian Navy is planning to deploy the Mistral-class warships in the Northern and Pacific fleets to conduct troop transport, peacekeeping and rescue missions. In addition, the helicopter carriers could be used effectively in anti-piracy operations, including off the Somali coast.

Russian shipbuilders strongly oppose the deal and the government has yet to make a decision on whether Russia needs to build costly amphibious assault ships.
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