``With the French economy predicted to have near-zero growth this year, and unemployment stuck above 10%, France would be obligated to refund Russia much of the cost of the Mistrals if they do not deliver them, a sum worth hundreds of millions of euros. That's money the government is loath to part with, especially with Hollande's popularity at record lows; his Socialist Party lost 155 municipalities in last week's local elections.''

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