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France on Saturday seized a automobile cargo ship within the English Channel that Washington says was linked to the son of a former Russian spy chief, in one of many first seen shows of the West implementing sanctions on Moscow over its Ukraine invasion.

The “Baltic Chief” was headed for St. Petersburg however was diverted to the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer in northern France between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. (0200-0300 GMT), Captain Veronique Magnin of the French Maritime Prefecture advised Reuters.

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The vessel was “strongly suspected of being linked to Russian pursuits focused by the sanctions,” she mentioned.

America Treasury Division has issued blocking sanctions in opposition to the vessel as a result of, in response to Treasury, it was owned by a subsidiary of Russian lender Promsvyazbank, one of many Russian entities hit by U.S. sanctions.

Russian cargo ship Baltic Chief is seen after it was diverted for allegedly violating EU-imposed sanctions on Moscow over the invasion of Ukraine, within the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer, France, February 26, 2022. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol (REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol / Reuters Images)

The financial institution’s CEO, Pyotr Fradkov, is the son of Mikhail Fradkov, a former head of Russia’s international intelligence service, who additionally served as prime minister underneath Russian President Vladimir Putin. Pyotr Fradkov was himself included within the newest spherical of U.S. sanctions.

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Promsvyazbank, in a remark despatched to Reuters, mentioned its subsidiary now not owns the Baltic Chief, and that it was purchased by a unique entity earlier than the sanctions have been imposed.

Magnin, the maritime prefecture spokeswoman, mentioned ongoing checks have been being carried out by customs officers and the ship’s crew was “being cooperative.”

Russian cargo ship Baltic Chief is seen after it was diverted for allegedly violating EU-imposed sanctions on Moscow over the invasion of Ukraine. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol (REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol / Reuters Images)

The Russian embassy in Paris will ship a word of protest to the French international ministry over the seizure, the embassy mentioned in a press release despatched to Reuters.

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The embassy additionally mentioned the ship’s crew had been allowed to return ashore and transfer freely concerning the port.

A Reuters photographer on the port mentioned the ship was moored at dockside.

Russian cargo ship Baltic Chief within the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer, France, February 26, 2022. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol (REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol / Reuters Images)

America, European Union, and different Western states this week imposed intensive new monetary and commerce sanctions on Russia after it despatched army forces into neighbouring Ukraine.

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The U.S. Treasury Division mentioned Promsvyazbank was put underneath sanctions “for working or having operated within the protection and associated materiel and monetary companies sectors of the Russian Federation economic system.” It was additionally focused by EU sanctions.

(Manufacturing: Pascal Rossignol, Ardee Napolitano)