France on Saturday intercepted a Russian ship in the English Channel in line with new European Union sanctions against Moscow.
The cargo ship was transporting cars and left Rouen for St. Petersburg. However, the French naval police redirected the ship to the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer in northern France.
The channel’s maritime state press office confirmed to NBC News that it was “suspected of belonging to a Russian company that is currently on the EU sanctions list.”
Reports say the 127-meter-long ship is called the “Baltic Leader” and that its crew is cooperating with the authorities.
The Russian news agency (RIA) said: That the Russian Embassy in France immediately contacted the French authorities for clarification.
The channel’s Maritime Directorate explained that “the sea police patrol the waters every night in search of migrants crossing the canal. They crossed the Russian boat and were searched on board and the boat was ordered to return to the French port.”
According to NBC News, French customs agents are currently on the boat for an investigation to see if he violated sanctions.
The United States and its European allies decided to directly punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for the Russian invasion of Ukraine this week. The European Union also has a broader list of Russian individuals who are subject to sanctions.
Also on Thursday, EU leaders backed another set of sanctions aimed at targeting strategic sectors of the Russian economy, by blocking access to key technologies and markets.
They will also look to “weaken Russia’s economic base and capacity for modernization” and “freeze Russian assets in the European Union and stop Russian banks’ access to the European financial market.” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said:.
“What we are facing is an unprecedented act of aggression by the Russian leadership against an independent, sovereign state,” he added. Von der Line Thursday said.
“The goal of Russia is not only Donbass, the goal is not only Ukraine, the goal is stability in Europe and the entire international system based on rules. Therefore, we will hold Russia to account.”
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in Kiev on Saturday that the capital was able to fend off Russian attacks overnight and that his army was still in control.
Street fighting broke out in Kiev As Russian forces approached the city. Ukraine blew up bridges to Kiev in an attempt to prevent Russian forces from infiltrating the capital.
—Silvia Amaro of CNBC contributed to this article.