European sanctions: a Russian boat intercepted in the English Channel

A commercial boat flying the Russian flag, photographed in Boulogne-sur-Mer on February 26, 2022, suspected of belonging to an entity targeted by EU sanctions against Moscow, was intercepted in the English Channel by French authorities ( AFP/FRANCOIS LO PRESTI)

A merchant ship flying the Russian flag, suspected of belonging to an entity targeted by EU sanctions against Moscow, was intercepted in the Channel by French authorities, the maritime prefecture told AFP on Saturday.

This boat transporting vehicles to Saint-Petersburg (Russia) had left Rouen and was diverted overnight from Friday to Saturday to Boulogne-sur-Mer (Pas-de-Calais), according to the prefecture.

A customs patrol boat, supported by a gendarmerie launch and a navy ship, escorted the Ro-Ro Baltic Leader, said Véronique Magnin, regional communication officer for the maritime prefecture.

This 127-meter boat is “strongly suspected of being linked to Russian interests targeted by sanctions”, said the same source, stressing that this measure, a sign of “firmness”, was “rare” in this area.

“The Russian merchant ship was cooperative,” said Ms. Magnin.

Customs conducted hearings and investigations on board to confirm these links.

The imposing ro-ro ship with a red hull, visible from afar, was moored at the quay in an uncrowded area of ​​​​the port, at a distance from other boats, noted an AFP journalist. At midday, no activity was detectable either on board or around.

The Russian embassy in Paris, informed by an emergency call from the captain, “immediately contacted the French authorities to seek clarification”, according to statements by the spokesman of the embassy, ​​Alexandre Makagonov, quoted by the agency. official TASS press release.

French Minister of Public Accounts Olivier Dussopt “congratulates customs”, said his cabinet, adding that “this procedure” was “in accordance with the instructions he gave with (the Minister of Finance, editor’s note) Bruno Le Maire to the services of Bercy for the implementation of the sanctions”.

Port CEO Jean-Jacques Puissesseau said he had “never seen” such an operation in 20 years of activity.

The European Union on Thursday adopted an unprecedented package of sanctions against Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine, shortly before London and Washington in turn tightened restrictions, without taking drastic measures.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are now targeted, in addition to 26 personalities from the business world.

Demonstrations took place on Saturday in several cities in France against the war in Ukraine.


© 2022 AFP

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