France intercepts Russia-bound cargo ship ‘Baltic Leader’ in the English Channel

The French navy has intercepted a Russian cargo ship in the English Channel that was bound for Saint Petersburg, the BBC has reported.

French officials told the broadcaster that the ship was intercepted in line with new European Union sanctions imposed on Russian entities and individuals after Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine on Thursday.

The ship ‘Baltic Leader’ has been redirected to a port in Boulogne-Sur-Mer, the BBC added.

It was scheduled to reach St Petersburg on 3 March, according to a cargo vessel tracking website.

An anonymous official reportedly said: “A 127 meters long Russia cargo ship called the ‘Baltic Leader’ transporting cars has been intercepted overnight by the French Navy in the Channel and escorted to the Port of Boulogne-Sur-Mer in Northern France.

“It has been taken to the French port after a request by the French government because it is suspected of belonging to a company targeted by EU sanctions against Moscow.

“French boarder forces are currently investigating the cargo ship. Crew aboard the ‘Baltic Leader’ has been cooperating with French authorities.”

Russia’s embassy in Paris is requesting that the French authorities explain why the ship was seized, according to Russian news agency RIA.

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