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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Defense Ministry Confirms French Talks, Defends Bulava

Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin confirmed Saturday that the military was in negotiations about the possible purchase of a military ship built in France and defended the design of the troubled Bulava missile.

Popovkin said it was too early to say whether an agreement for buying a Mistral-class helicopter carrier could be reached, but he said Russian shipbuilders were already upset with the plan.

“We are discussing the ship’s purchase and, at the same time, we are talking about having facilities to produce such ships in Russia,” he told Ekho Moskvy radio.

Officials at the French Defense Ministry would not comment Saturday about the possible sale.

Popovkin said French technologies could help Russia build its own aircraft carriers but Russian shipbuilders strongly oppose the purchase. Popovkin said the government has yet to make a decision on whether the country needs to build costly aircraft carriers.

The weaknesses of military industries were highlighted by the bungled development of the new Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile, which failed in seven of its 11 test launches.

Popovkin insisted that the Bulava’s design was fine and blamed its failed tests on manufacturing flaws, resulting from post-Soviet industrial degradation. The Bulava failures were rooted “not in design flaws, but technological faults, such as violations of technological norms and the use of substandard metals,” he said.

He added that a team of independent experts has been created to analyze the failures and tests will only resume after it makes its conclusions.