MV Baltic Leader
|Port of registry||Russia|
|Class and type||Ro-ro cargo ship|
|Length||127 m (416 ft 8 in)|
|Beam||20 m (65 ft 7 in)|
|Draft||4.9 m (16 ft 1 in)|
Baltic Leader is 127 metres (416 ft 8 in) long, 20 metres (65 ft 7 in) wide, and has a draft of 4.9 metres (16 ft 1 in). It has a maximum speed of 10.5 knots.
On 19 February 2022, Baltic Leader arrived in Rouen to load a cargo of automobiles. On 25 February, the ship departed for Saint Petersburg to deliver this cargo. That night, while transiting through the English Channel, the ship was intercepted and instructed to redirect to Pas-de-Calais by French maritime authorities. After being surrounded by three customs patrol boats, the Baltic Leader was boarded, inspected, and seized. It was escorted by one of the boats to port, where it arrived at around 2 A.M. the following morning. The ship's crew was allowed to go ashore while the vessel was detained.
The legality and implications of the seizure of Baltic Leader have been debated since the action was taken. Shortly after Baltic Leader arrived in France, Russia officially recognized the breakaway states of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent, triggering an expansion of European Union sanctions against Russia. One new sanction was on the state-owned bank Promsvyazbank, which controls Baltic Leader, and was cited by French authorities as justification for the seizure of the ship. Additionally, United States Treasury Department sanctions had previously been levied against the ship because of its ties to Pyotr Fradkov, the son of former Russian prime minister Mikhail Fradkov.
- "Vessel Baltic Leader (RoRo ship)". Fleetmon. Retrieved 23 June 2022.
- Petta, Michael (8 March 2022). "The Seizure of A Russian Merchant Vessel Raises Questions About Neutrality". Lawfare. Retrieved 23 June 2022.
- Perrot, Caroline (26 February 2022). "France intercepts a Russian merchant ship in the English Channel". leDroit. Retrieved 23 June 2022.
- Rossignol, Pascal (26 February 2022). "France, enforcing sanctions on Russia, seizes ship in Channel". Reuters. Retrieved 23 June 2022.