PARIS, February 26. /TASS/. An operation on intercepting and detaining the Russian Baltic Leader freighter in the English Channel was conducted by the French customs and gendarmerie in cooperation with US authorities, France’s Ministry of Economy and Finance reported on Saturday.
According to its data, the vessel left the port of Rouen at 00:45 (02:45 Moscow time) in the direction of St. Petersburg and was intercepted at 02:00 (04:00) on February 26. "It was redirected to the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer where it was placed under customs control near the pier within the framework of the operation conducted in cooperation with the US authorities," the statement said.
"Upon the end of the inspection, the ship’s captain and a representative of the ship’s owner were informed that the vessel belonging to the PSB Leasing company was in violation of the February 23, 2022 decision (EU) 2022/260 <...> on restrictive measures with regards to actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty or independence of Ukraine," the statement said.
The Russian Embassy in France said that it sent a note of protest to the French Foreign Ministry over the detention of the Russian ship in French waters. As spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Paris Alexander Makogonov told a TASS correspondent earlier, the decision on the freighter’s future fate will be made in court. He also vowed that the embassy will undertake the necessary measures to protect the rights and interests of Russian sailors. In all, there were 19 people aboard the ship, they were allowed to come ashore. The embassy specified that there were no additional requests for assistance on the part of the sailors.
Earlier, the press service of the PSB Leasing company told TASS that the Baltic Leader vessel did not belong to it - the freighter was bought out by the owner before the introduction of sanctions in accordance with the leasing contract.