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Russia to buy two French warships

Russia has agreed to buy at least two French warships in a deal that would boost its deployment abilities and worries some of Moscow's neighbours.

It is one of the largest military deals between a Nato country and Moscow.

The Kremlin said in a statement that it "has made its choice" to buy two Mistral-class ships and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had informed French President Nicolas Sarkozy of the decision, Mr Sarkozy's office said.

The Mistral, which could carry as many as 16 helicopters and dozens of armoured vehicles, would allow Russia to land hundreds of troops quickly on foreign soil.

The prospect has alarmed Georgia, which fought a brief war against Russia in 2008, as well as the ex-Soviet Baltic nations in Nato.

France and Russia have been in talks about the sale for months, but negotiations had dragged on amid questions about how many ships would be built and where, and how much of the technology France would share.

France was seen as the leading contender for the contract, though Russian officials said they were also looking at similar ships built by Spain and Netherlands.

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