| 2 March 2024, Saturday |

France seizes ship suspected of violating sanctions against Russia

A ship seized by French maritime police on Saturday is suspected to belong to a Russian corporation sanctioned by the European Union over the Ukraine conflict, a government official told Reuters.

The cargo ship carrying automobiles on its way to St. Petersburg is “highly suspected of being related to Russian interests targeted by the sanctions,” according to Captain Veronique Magnin of the French Maritime Prefecture.

The ship was diverted to the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer in northern France between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. (0200-0300 GMT), Magnin said, adding ongoing checks were being carried out by customs officials and the ship’s crew was “being cooperative.”

French newspaper La Voix Du Nord, which first reported the news, said the vessel was the “Baltic Leader,” which – according to website – sails under a Russian flag.

The vessel is mentioned in a United States Treasury document detailing U.S. sanctions against Russia, which linked it to a Russian leasing company.

Magnin told Reuters the company that owns the ship belongs to a Russian businessman who is on the EU’s list of sanctioned people.

The Russian embassy in France is seeking an explanation from authorities over the seizure, Russia’s RIA news agency quoted the embassy as saying.

Russia’s TASS news agency quoted the Russian embassy as saying all 19 people on board had been allowed to come ashore.

EU states on Friday agreed to freeze European assets of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his foreign minister to punish Russia for the attack on Ukraine. A wider list of sanctioned people was put in place earlier this month.

  • Reuters