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The collateral damage of the West’s economic war with their Russian trade rival, for almost two months Russia’s ships have been held captive in French ports. In Saint-Malo, Marseille and Boulogne-sur-Mer, Russian cargo ships carrying cars or chemicals were stuck because their owners allegedly fell under sanctions imposed by Washington and Brussels against Russia.
What to do with these vessels in anticipation of the end of the conflict in Ukraine? In Saint-Malo, Brittany region, Vladimir Latyshev with a length of 141 meters (462 feet) barely fits at the pier. The ocean-going cargo vessel has to be constantly moved to make room for other ships.
STEPHANE PERRIN, Vice President of the Regional Council of Brittany: It has been moved many times already, three or four times. So, the longer the downtime lasts, the more these movements will be. Even if it seems that these are just tiny movements in the port, they cost a lot of money every time.
At the moment, about €50,000 has been spent on just one ship. Most of it was taken over by the region of Brittany, which requires assistance from the state.
And what about the quarantine of these ships’ Russian sailors who have not gone ashore for 50 days? They can’t be interviewed because you can’t get on board the ships. According to the trade union worker who visits them regularly, they are paid their wages, but their bank cards are blocked in France. The seafarers’ subsistence is entirely dependent on the employer.
LAURA TALLONO, International Transport Workers’ Federation Inspector: If the shipowner doesn’t pay, which is unlikely, seafarers are left to fend for themselves. So, we are responsible for them and cannot leave them. They are collateral victims of these sanctions.
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So how long will the blockade of these ships last? The court has already allowed the ship Pola Ariake to leave the port of Lorient. Customs (French taxpayer) was ordered to pay a fine of €100,000 as compensation for damages: they could not prove that the ship really belongs to the Russian citizen who fell under the sanctions. In the coming weeks, several more lawsuits initiated by shipowners should take place. Source
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Categories: Current Events