Russia agreed, in principle, to a deal for buying a Mistral helicopter carrier from France and the forthcoming tender will be a formality, a senior Navy official was quoted as saying.
Russia has been negotiating with France for months to buy the Mistral-class ships, in its first ever purchase of military equipment from a NATO member. Talks, however, have been mired by disputes over technology transfer.
In August, Russia said it had thrown open its planned purchase of the vessel to an international tender, ending France's status as the exclusive bidder. But Interfax News Agency quoted an unidentified senior Navy official as saying the tender would be a mere formality as Russia and France had already agreed on the parameters of the deal.
"The tender to purchase the helicopter carrier, which will be announced before the end of September, will be of a formal character," he said, Interfax reported.
The tender's primary purpose would be to lower the price to a maximum low, he was quoted as saying.
"The tender is formed in such a way as to practically predetermine the victory of the French ship," Interfax quoted the official as saying.
The deal is reportedly worth around 600 million euros ($765 million). Although it would secure jobs in the French yards, France's NATO allies expressed concern about arming Russia with modern Western weaponry.