In a statement released on Tuesday by the French President's office, Francois Hollande confirmed that the delivery of a controversial high-tech warship to Russia had been suspended.
"The President of the Republic considers that the current situation in eastern Ukraine still does not allow for the delivery of the first" warship, the statement said. "He therefore decided to delay until further notice" the decision on whether to grant the export licence needed to deliver the ship to Russia, the statement added.
The 1.2 billion euro (1.6 billion dollar) contract, which was signed in 2011, is the biggest ever arms sale by a NATO country to Russia. Moscow has reportedly warned Paris of "serious" consequences unless France delivers the first of two Mistral-class helicopter carriers by the end of November. The first of two assault ships was also supposed to be delivered earlier this month.
However, amid the current Ukraie crisis and the rapid decline of Russia's relations with the West, France has come under intense pressure from its allies, especially the US, and postponed the first delivery in September.
Russia escaped further sanctions from the rest of the European Union last week, with the institution's foreign ministers saying they were more interested in beginning fresh talks with Moscow than imposing tougher sanctions.
According to the latest UN report, more than 4,317 people have died since the conflict between Ukraine's army and the pro-Russian separatists broke out in Ukraine's east in April.
ksb/msh (AFP, AP)