(Adds Cameron quotes)
LONDON, July 21 British Prime Minister David
Cameron on Monday questioned France's plan to sell Mistral
helicopter carriers to Russia, saying fulfilling such an order
would be unthinkable in Britain after the downing of the
Malaysian Airlines plane in Ukraine.
When asked about France's plan to press ahead with a 1.2
billion-euro ($1.66 billion) contract to sell the ships to
Russia, Cameron said: "Frankly in this country it would be
unthinkable to fulfil an order like the one outstanding that the
"But we need to put the pressure on with all our partners to
say that we cannot go on doing business as usual with a country
when it is behaving in this way."
Cameron spoke as fighting flared in the eastern Ukrainian
city of Donetsk as investigators began to inspect the bodies of
victims of the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 last
The British leader said that the European Union should
consider hard-hitting economic sanctions against Russia,
including freezing the assets of President Vladimir Putin's
closest allies whom he referred to as "cronies and oligarchs".
"I made some progress with that on Wednesday night, I hope
to make some more progress (at an EU meeting on Tuesday), but I
think it is time to start go into the tier three sanctions," he
said, saying Russia couldn't expect access to European markets,
capital and technical expertise while Putin was fuelling
conflict in Ukraine.
(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan and William James; Writing by Guy
Faulconbridge; Editing by Andrew Osborn)