Russian Commercial Vessel Intercepted in English Channel

© Photo : Screenshot / MarineTrafficScreengrab of MarineTraffic showing location of the Russian-flagged cargo ship Baltic Leader on Saturday, 26 February 2022.
Screengrab of MarineTraffic showing location of the Russian-flagged cargo ship Baltic Leader on Saturday, 26 February 2022. - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.02.2022
The ship is suspected of being linked to "Russian interests targeted by sanctions," a spokesperson for France's Maritime Prefect's office, has told media.
The Russian Embassy in France confirmed to Sputnik Saturday that a Russian commercial vessel has been seized by French Customs, with its captain informing the diplomatic mission of the incident.

"The Embassy received an emergency call from the captain of a Russian dry cargo ship. The captain informed the Embassy of the detention of his vessel by French authorities in the English Channel," the diplomatic mission said.

The Embassy indicated that it would send an formal note of protest to the French Foreign Ministry, and take measures to protect the crew of the detained vessel.
Earlier, Agence France-Presse reported that the Baltic Leader, a 127-meter roll-on roll-off vessel transporting vehicles to Russia's St. Petersburg, was intercepted and detained in a French port.
The ship is "strongly suspected of being linked to Russian interests targeted by sanctions," Veronique Magnin, a spokesperson for the Maritime Prefect's office, told the news agency.
The Russian-flagged vessel was said to have left the French port of Rouen, northern France, and to have been diverted to Boulogne-sur-Mer, a major fishing port about 170 km to the north, by a French Customs patrol boat, a Gendarmerie vessel and a Navy patrol boat.
Magnin called the seizure a sign of French "firmness" in applying anti-Russian sanctions, and said that measures of this kind are "rare." Customs officials are said to have boarded the ship to conduct 'hearings and investigations' regarding the ship's possible links to sanctioned persons or entities.
Maritime tracking serivce MarineTraffic showed the Baltic Leader docked at Boulogne-sur-Mer as of noon local time. The Ro-Ro cargo ship was built in the year 2000, and has a gross tonnage capacity of 8,831 tonnes.
EU flag - Sputnik International, 1920, 24.02.2022
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The restrictions come amid the unprecedented post-Cold War deterioration of relations between Russia an the West over Ukraine. Russia and militia forces from the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics launched what Putin characterized as a "special military operation" in Ukraine on Thursday aimed at "demilitarising and denazifying" the country following a breakdown of negotiations and continued Ukrainian artillery and mortar attacks on the Donbass republics.
Thursday's escalation comes amid months of rising tensions in the Donbass, including back-and-forth shelling, and repeated calls by Russia asking the US and NATO to respect Moscow's security concerns over Ukraine. The Russian military operation is the culmination of a crisis which began over eight years ago, when Ukraine's government was overthrown in a violent, US and EU--backed coup in Kiev and replaced by pro-Western and ultra-nationalist forces seeking to make Ukraine part of the Western economic and military blocs. The coup sparked a civil war in Ukraine's east, and a Russian, French and German-led effort to regulate the crisis via the 2015 Minsk Agreements proved fruitless after successive Ukrainian governments refused to make progress in carrying out the peace deal's points on providing the Donbass with broad constitutionally-mandated autonomy.
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