French defense minister says Russia may never get the warships it ordered due to Ukraine

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PARIS — France's defense minister suggested on Friday that two warships ordered by Russia may never be delivered because of its actions in Ukraine.

Last month, President Francois Hollande suspended the delivery of the first of the ships "until further notice" due to tensions over Ukraine. It was the second postponement of the delivery.

Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a TV interview Friday that the delivery may never happen if the situation doesn't change.

"The Russians must realize this," he said on BFM TV.

Russian annexed Crimea and is accused of supplying pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine with manpower.

The sale of the two helicopter carriers would be the biggest arms transaction by a NATO country to the Kremlin.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov responded by putting the blame on France.

"This is not our problem. It's a problem for the reputation of France," he said Friday at a news conference in Basel, Switzerland, where he was attending a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

"Further, a contract should be strictly fulfilled," the Interfax news agency quoted Lavrov as saying.

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