France Seizes Russian Ship Baltic Leader in English Channel; Moscow Raises Issue With Paris

A Russia-bound cargo ship was seized in the English Channel on Saturday over the recent sanctions announced by the European Union as Putin's troop continues their offensive against Ukraine on the streets of Kyiv.

The 416-ft commercial boat named the 'Baltic Leader' is believed to belong to a company that was sanctioned earlier this week by the EU.

Sam Jaguar
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There's the possibility that the ship could belong to a Russian company, said French officials, underlining that the company was hit by sanctions that were related to Russia's Ukraine invasion.

Vessel Owned by EU-sanctioned Company

The customs officials intercepted the ship near Honfleur, in Normandy. The vessel was transporting vehicles from the French city of Rouen, reported the Daily Mail.

Currently, in connection with the EU sanctions, maritime officers have been given the power to intercept and seize vessels suspected of violating sanctions.

The ship was diverted to the French port of Boulogne-sur-Mer between 3 and 4 am (2/3 am GMT) and ongoing checks were being carried out by customs officials, said Captain Veronique Magnin, regional communication officer for the maritime prefecture.

Unmanned Ship
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Officials have conveyed that those aboard 'Baltic Leader' are said to be cooperating with the investigation, which is expected to take nearly 48 hours.

Meanwhile, Captain Magnin maintained the vessel is strongly suspected of being linked to recent sanctions.

Russia Seeking Explanations

The vessel Baltic Leader, which sails under the flag of Russia, is a Ro-Ro Cargo vessel built nearly 22 years ago and was scheduled to dock in St Petersberg by March 6.

Meanwhile, the Russian embassy in France, over the seizure of one of its cargo ships, is said to be seeking explanations from French officials.

The seizure comes as Russia has invaded Ukraine and fighting has intensified in the streets of the capital Kyiv with the West warning Moscow of furthermore sanctions.