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Russian cargo ship seized in English Channel

A Russian cargo ship has been seized in the English Channel by French authorities.

Officials said it could belong to a Russian company suspected of violating trade sanctions linked to the war in Ukraine.

The Russian embassy in France is seeking explanations from French authorities over the seizure by police, Russia’s RIA news agency quoted the diplomatic facility as saying.

Captain Veronique Magnin of the French Maritime Prefecture said the vessel, which was taking cars to St Petersburg, is “strongly suspected of being linked to Russian interests targeted by the sanctions”.

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The ship was diverted to the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer in northern France between 3am and 4am, local time, Ms Magnin said.

Ongoing checks were being carried out by customs officials and the ship’s crew was “being cooperative,” she added.

The vessel was named as the Baltic Leader by French newspaper La Voix Du Nord, which first reported the seizure.

More on Ukraine

According to website marinetraffic.com, the ship sails under a Russian flag.

The company that owns the ship belongs to a Russian businessman who is on the EU’s list of sanctioned people, Captain Magnin said.

Key developments:

• Reports of fighting across the cities of Kyiv, Mariupol, Kherson, Mykolaiv, Melitopol and Odessa
• ‘Bulk’ of Russian forces advancing on capital now 19 miles from city centre
• UK, US and EU imposing direct sanctions on Vladimir Putin and foreign minister Sergei Lavrov
• Decision yet to be made on locking Russia out of Swift international payment system
• Invasion resulting in refugee crisis with 120,000 Ukrainians fleeing to neighbouring countries – UN
• China abstains from UN Security Council draft resolution on invasion

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