In the wee hours of Saturday, France seized and held a Russian cargo vessel in the English Channel, escalating tensions between both the West and Russia.
According to FranceBleu, a 127-meter long Russian-flagged ship dubbed “Baltic Leader” was redirected by French border police at around 2 a.m. on Saturday morning.
This happened while patrolling the English Channel off the coastline of the Calais area for illegal boat immigrants.
The boat was “highly suspected of being connected to Russian interests blacklisted by sanctions,” Véronique Magnin, a spokesperson for France’s Maritime Prefect office, told the Agence France-Presse media outlet.
The Russian consulate in France stated a Russian business vessel had been held by French Customs, as per Russian media. Later, the mission called French officials for an explanation.
BREAKING: Russian embassy in France says that a Russian cargo ship has been seized by French customs in the Channel, on suspicion of being linked to sanctioned interests, and is currently in Boulogne-sur-Mer port.
— The Spectator Index (@spectatorindex) February 26, 2022
“The embassy got an important call from the commander of a Russian bulk carrier, reporting the ship’s arrest by French authorities in the English Channel,” according to the consulate.
“A 127-meter-long Russian cargo ship dubbed the ‘Baltic Leader’ and delivering automobiles was intercepted tonight by the French Navy in the Channel. It was then taken to the Harbour of Boulogne-Sur-Mer in Mainland Europe,” a French official told the BBC.
“It was transported to a French port after the French government made a request since it is accused of belonging to a corporation that is subject to EU sanctions against Moscow.”
“The cargo vessel is currently being investigated by French border officials. The crew of the ‘Baltic Leader’ has been assisting French officials.”
Following Vladimir Putin’s choice to undertake a “full-scale” attack of Ukraine after years of smoldering war in the Donbas region, ties among Europe and the Russian Federation have deteriorated.
The European Union, which France is a part of, proposed a slew of penalties in reaction to the invasion, including individual sanctions against Putin and Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov.
According to the UN Refugee Agency, almost 120,000 people have left Ukraine for neighboring countries as a result of Russia’s war.
As Ukrainians gathered their possessions and tried to flee a murderous Russian offense against their country, including an attempt to capture the capital, the numbers were rapidly rising.
Touching scenes on the 🇵🇱🇺🇦 Polish-Ukrainian border. Ukrainian men escort women and children to PL and return to fight. They will know how to answer the question "Daddy, where were you then?" #TrueValues@PalestinePMO @MofaPPD @UKRinPL pic.twitter.com/pr0BvEUg6A
— Representative Office of Poland in Ramallah (@PLinPalestine) February 26, 2022
“As of right now, about 116,000 people have crossed international boundaries.”
“This might go up; it changes every minute,” said Shabia Mantoo, a UN High Commissioner for Refugees spokesperson. “It’s a very fluid situation that changes by the hour.”
If the situation worsens, the UN estimates that up to four million Ukrainians may flee.
Most have been traveling to Poland, Moldova, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and possibly Belarus, where some Russian military invaded Ukraine, according to Mantoo.
She did not have immediate access to information on statistics by country, but the vast majority were arriving in Poland.
About two million Ukrainians have already landed to work in recent times, fleeing Russia’s first infiltrations into Ukraine in 2014 and looking for opportunities in their European Union neighbor’s growing economy.