France seizes ship targeted by US sanctions against Russia

BOULOGNE-SUR-MER, France, Feb 26 (Reuters) – France on Saturday seized a car cargo ship in the English Channel that Washington said was linked to the son of a former Russian spy chief, in one of the first visible exhibits The West is applying sanctions to Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.

The “Baltic Leader” was heading for Saint Petersburg but was diverted to the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer in northern France between 03:00 and 04:00 (02:00-03:00 GMT), Captain Véronique Magnin told Reuters. the French maritime prefecture.

The ship was “strongly suspected of being linked to sanctioned Russian interests”, she said.

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The U.S. Treasury Department issued restraint sanctions against the ship because the Treasury said it was owned by a subsidiary of Russian lender Promsvyazbank, one of the Russian entities hit by U.S. sanctions.

The bank’s CEO, Pyotr Fradkov, is the son of Mikhail Fradkov, a former head of Russia’s foreign intelligence service, who also served as prime minister under Russian President Vladimir Putin. Piotr Fradkov himself was included in the latest round of US sanctions.

Promsvyazbank, in a comment sent to Reuters, said its subsidiary no longer owned the Baltic Leader and was purchased by another entity before the sanctions were imposed.

Magnin, spokesman for the maritime prefecture, said continuous checks were carried out by customs officers and that the ship’s crew “were cooperative”.

The Russian Embassy in Paris will send a protest note to the French Foreign Ministry over the seizure, the embassy said in a statement sent to Reuters.

The embassy also said the ship’s crew had been allowed to disembark and move freely in the port.

A Reuters photographer at the port said the ship was docked.

The United States, the European Union and other Western states this week imposed significant new financial and trade sanctions on Russia after it sent military forces to neighboring Ukraine.

The US Treasury Department said Promsvyazbank was under sanctions “for operating or operating in the defense and related financial equipment and services sectors of the economy of the Russian Federation.” It has also been targeted by EU sanctions. Read more

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Additional reports from Tassilo Hummel and the Moscow office; Written by Tassilo Hummel and Christian Lowe; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel

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