French authorities arrested a Russian merchant ship off Pas-de-Calais

As Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to launch a full-scale offensive against Ukraine, sanctions already imposed on Russia for its previous actions have been tightened by the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union, It aims to asphyxiate it economically, particularly by preventing it from raising capital from Western countries and financing its debt.

The aim, as explained by the Minister of Economy, Bruno Le Maire, is to “economically isolate Russia and dry up financing” of the Russian economy. “I am not sure that President Putin has measured the extent of the sanctions that have been set. It is a question of affecting the functioning of Russia”, also confirmed his foreign affairs aide Jean-Yves Le Drian. “The package of measures announced is quite spectacular. This is in line with the gravity of the situation,” he insisted.

In the short term, such measures may not produce the desired effect. Russia may turn to other partners first [à commencer par la Chine] It has to find other sources of funding and its public finances are healthy, with public debt of less than 20% of its GDP.

“The Russian economy still has significant macro-economic and financial comfort margins. […] Public finance remains fairly lax with a budget that should return to balance in 2021 [après un déficit de 3,8% du PIB en 2020] and debt of 17.5% of GDP at the end of October 2021. Foreign exchange reserves and sovereign funds reached US$622.5 billion and US$185.2 billion respectively on December 1, 2021″, underlines a note from the Treasury’s general management.

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In addition, and if at the moment there is no question, then there is a question of cutting Russia’s access to the SWIFT interbank system [l’Allemagne, l’Italie, l’Autriche, la Slovaquie, la Lettonie, la Hongrie et Chypre s’y opposent]Other sanctions are aimed at limiting Russian imports of “critical technologies”, freezing the assets of personalities close to the Kremlin, and restricting European funding for public companies.

However, within the framework of these restrictions, on the night of 25 to 26 February, the French authorities decided to board the Russian freighter Baltic Leader from Pas-de-Calais while he had just left Rouen to St. Petersburg. to reach.

The vessel was intercepted during an operation involving a public service patrol vessel [PSP] “Cormoron” from the French Navy, the maritime surveillance launch “Scarpe”, from the Maritime Gendarmerie, and the customs patrol boat “Jacques Oudart Formentin”.

According to the Maritime Prefecture, the “Baltic leader” suspected of having links to “Russian interests that are targeted by sanctions” has been set against Moscow by the European Union. of this ship weighing more than 8000 tons [pour 127 mètres de long] He was taken to Boulogne-sur-Mer, where he would undergo a “check”.

However, in the face of sanctions, Russia warned that it would take retaliatory measures. “How symmetrical or asymmetric they will be will depend on the analysis of sanctions,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

Because, according to another note from the General Directorate of the Treasury, “with more than 500 French subsidiaries established in various sectors [dont 35 entreprises du CAC 40]France is the largest foreign employer in Russia [160’000 salariés] », particularly in the areas of «agri-food, finance, distribution, energy, automotive, construction/urban services, transport, aeronautical-space and pharmaceuticals».

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And to add: “In the external regions with attractive taxation, France was the second foreign investor in the stock on October 1, 2020 [16,8 Md USD] after uk [27,7 Md USD] and beyond Germany [16,6 Md USD] and another foreign investor in flow [1,1 Md USD] behind the uk [5,2 Md USD] during the first three quarters of 2020. Russia, on the other hand, invests very little in France, there are only thirty companies, employing 3,500 people,” mainly concentrated with the main investor RZHD which bought GEFCO. [transport et logistique] in 2012 “.

Photo: © Navy / Elizabeth Vanessa

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