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France intercepts Russian Cargo Ship

French naval forces have intercepted in the Channel a cargo vessel loaded with cars heading for the Baltic port city of Saint Petersburg after the EU slapped sanctions on Russia, officials said Saturday.

The Russian-flagged Baltic Leader, which had set sail from the French city of Rouen, was escorted to the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer by French forces, the maritime prefecture told AFP.

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It is suspected of belonging to a company targeted by the sanctions.

Véronique Magnin, nouvelle porte-parole du préfet maritime

A French customs patrol vessel backed by a police surveillance ship and a navy patrol boat stopped the Baltic Leader, said Veronique Magnin of the regional prefecture.

The 127-metre (417-foot) vessel is “strongly suspected of being linked to Russian interests targeted by sanctions,” she said, adding that while such a measure was “rare” it is “a sign of firmness.”

The move comes after the European Union on Thursday adopted unprecedented sanctions against Russian individuals, companies, and other entities to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.

A spokesperson for the Russian embassy in Paris told the TASS news agency the boat’s captain had telephoned the embassy, which then contacted the French authorities to ask for an explanation of the incident.

France Intercepts Russia-Bound Cargo Ship In English Channel

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