France on Saturday seized a motor cargo ship in the English Channel that Washington says is linked to the son of a former Russian intelligence chief, in one of the first visible displays of Western sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
Captain Veronique Magnin of the French Maritime Region told Reuters that the “Baltic Leader” was heading to Saint Petersburg but was diverted to the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer in northern France between 3:00 am and 4:00 am (0200-0300 GMT).
It said the ship was “highly suspected of being linked to Russian interests targeted by sanctions”.
The US Treasury issued embargo sanctions on the vessel because, according to the Treasury, it is owned by a subsidiary of Russian lender Promsvyazbank, one of the Russian entities affected by US sanctions.
The bank’s CEO, Pyotr Fradkov, is the son of Mikhail Fradkov, the former head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, who also served as prime minister under Russian President Vladimir Putin. Peter Fradkov himself was included in the latest round of US sanctions.
Promsvyazbank, in a comment sent to Reuters, said its branch no longer owns Baltic Leader, and a different entity had bought it before the sanctions were imposed.
According to reports, the Russian-flagged vehicle carrier was seized in the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer. This is the previous track 👇 pic.twitter.com/65KK1bYpIA
MarineTraffic (MarineTraffic) On February 26, 2022, Magnin, a spokeswoman for the Maritime Prefecture, said that ongoing checks were being conducted by customs officials and that the ship’s crew had been “cooperative.”
The embassy said in a statement sent to Reuters that the Russian embassy in Paris will send a protest note to the French Foreign Ministry over the seizure.
The embassy also said the ship’s crew was allowed to reach shore and move freely around the port.
A Reuters photographer at the port said the ship was moored at the quayside.
The United States, the European Union and other Western countries this week imposed wide-ranging new financial and trade sanctions on Russia after it sent military forces into neighboring Ukraine.
The US Treasury said Promsvyazbank was subject to sanctions “for operating or operating in the defense, equipment and related financial services sectors of the economy of the Russian Federation”. It has also been targeted by European Union sanctions.