France seizes ship following sanctions against Russia | Mercury of Illawarra

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French maritime police have seized a ship that authorities suspect belongs to a Russian company targeted by European Union sanctions because of the war in Ukraine, a government official said. The car-carrying cargo ship, which was heading for St. Petersburg, is “strongly suspected of being linked to sanctioned Russian interests”, said Captain Véronique 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., Magnin said, adding that continuous checks were carried out by customs officers and that the crew of the ship was “cooperative”. French newspaper La Voix Du Nord, which first reported the news, said the ship was the “Baltic Leader”, which – according to the website marinetraffic.com – sails under the Russian flag. The vessel is mentioned in a US Treasury document detailing US sanctions against Russia, which linked it to a Russian bank, Promsvyazbank Public Joint Stock Company (PSB). “PSB was designated for having operated or having operated in the defense and related materiel and financial services sectors of the economy of the Russian Federation,” the US Treasury said. It has also been targeted by EU sanctions. PSB did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment. Magnin told Reuters that the company owning the vessel is owned by a Russian businessman who is on the EU sanction list. The Russian embassy in France is asking the authorities for an explanation of the seizure, the Russian news agency RIA quoted the embassy as saying. Russian news agency TASS quoted the Russian Embassy as saying all 19 people on board had been cleared to disembark. EU members agreed on Friday to freeze the European assets of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his foreign minister to punish Russia for the attack on Ukraine. A broader list of sanctioned people was put in place earlier this month. Australian Associated Press

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