French sea police seized a car cargo vessel, en route to St Petersburg, in the English Channel. Washington reportedly says that it was linked to the son of an ex-spy chief of Russia, in the first of several most evident displays of the West enforcing its sanctions on Moscow.
Another vessel, “Baltic Leader” was reportedly diverted to the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer around 3 am to 4 am, France’s Maritime Prefecture Captain Veronique Magnin informed the Reuters. There were suspicions about the vessel having links to Russian interests, especially those that were targeted by the sanctions.
The US Treasury Department enforced blocking sanctions against the vessel as, per the Treasury; it was owned and managed by a Russian lender’s subsidiary named Promsvyazbank, one of the entities that were hit by the US and the EU sanctions.
Pyotr Fradkov, the bank’s CEO, is Mikhail Fradkov’s son, the former head of the Russian foreign intelligence service, who served as the PM under Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia. Pyotr Fradkov was included in the most recent round of the US sanctions.
Promsvyazbank said that its subsidiary does not own the Baltic Leader. He added that it had been bought by an entirely different entity even before any sanctions had been imposed.
France’s economy ministry has informed that Promsvyazbank’s subsidiary PZB Lizing is the vessel owner. The ship was intercepted in the enforcement of the EU sanctions on the lender and the subsidiaries.
The maritime prefecture spokeswoman, Magnin, said that the current checks were being conducted by the customs officials and the ship’s crew members were “being cooperative.” The Russian embassy in Paris is going to send its note of protest to France’s foreign ministry regarding the seizure.
The embassy also said the vessel’s crew members had been permitted to move freely and come ashore. A photographer employed at Reuters at Boulogne-sur-Mer reported that the vessel was moored at the dockside.
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