PARIS (AP) — A French-built warship designed to strengthen Russia's navy is getting its first test run — just as Western powers are trying to rein in Vladimir Putin's military threat to Ukraine.
A spokesman for the shipbuilder says the "Vladivostok" helicopter carrier is setting sail Wednesday from the French Atlantic port of Saint-Nazaire. A few hundred kilometers away in Paris, leading world diplomats meet Wednesday amid mounting tensions over Ukraine.
The warship is part of a lucrative 2011 deal that marked the biggest-ever sale of NATO weaponry to Moscow.
France has criticized Russia's military incursion into Ukraine's Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, but says it has no plans to scrap the defense deal. It illustrates the challenges for European countries that have economic ties with Russia but want to pressure it diplomatically.