Russian vessel Shtandart – Letter to Mrs. Elisabeth Borne, Prime Minister – Request for cancellation of the derogation from sanctions.

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Despite the 5th package of European sanctions, the Russian ship Shtandart enters Spanish and French ports by displaying an anti-Putinism without any real meaning, by instrumentalizing humanitarian aid to the Ukrainian populations victims of the Russian war, by promoting Russian soft power, and by appealing to the generosity of the public for its own benefit. Oleh Sentsov and Roman Suschenko, as well as about thirty Ukrainian organizations, ask Elizabeth Borne, Prime Minister of France, to put an end to this unjustifiable preferential treatment.

Roman Sushchenko: Chers amis, avec mon frère et ancien prisonnier politique du Kremlin Oleg Sentsov, nous nous sommes joints à l'initiative des patriotes ukrainiens de France et des Français bienveillants,

July 6, 2022

Шановні друзі, разом з побратимом та колишнім політбранцем Кремля Oleg Sentsov приєдналися до ініціативи українських патріотів Франції та небайдужих французів, лідерів громадських думок, представників громадських рухів та асоціацій і підписали відкритий лист, звернення до прем’єр-міністерки Франції Елізабет Борн щодо заборони вільного доступу до французьких портів вітрильника « Штандарт » під російським прапором…
Дивіться допис Романа Сущенка

Dear friends, together with my brother and former political prisoner of the Kremlin, Oleg Sentsov, we joined the initiative of the Ukrainian patriots of France and the benevolent French people, leaders of public opinion, representatives of public movements and associations and have signed an open letter, an appeal to the French Prime Minister Elizabeth Borne asking for the prohibition of free access to French ports of the sailboat « Shtandart » under the Russian flag…
Read Roman Sushchenko’s post.

Note: Quick English version for information. Original letter was sent in French and in Ukrainian.

Oleh Sentsov, Roman Sushchenko and the committee of opponents to the exemption of the Russian ship « Shtandart » from European sanctions.

Mrs. Elisabeth Borne
Prime minister
Hôtel de Matignon
57, rue de Varenne
7507 Paris


  • His Excellency, Mr. Vadym Omelchenko, Ambassador of Ukraine to France
  • Admiral Olivier Lebas, Commander-in-Chief for the Atlantic, Maritime Prefect of the second region
  • General Secretariat of the Sea
  • Mr. Philippe Mahé, Prefect of Finistère
  • Mr Nicolas Basselier, Prefect of Charente-Maritime

Re: Request for cancellation of the derogation for the Russian vessel Shtandart from European sanctions.

July 8, 2022

Madam Prime Minister,

The French President made France’s position clear with regard to the war that Russia is waging in Ukraine. Vladimir Putin reacted by declaring, on June 19, 2022, that our cultural attaché was persona non grata in Moscow. This indicates that Russia classifies France as a hostile country. Regarding the Russian ship Shtandart, the justifications sent to you by Mr. Michel Balique, President of the Association of Friends of French Tall Ships, are in our opinion either invalid or unfounded. You will be able to read, here, the reasons invoked and the denials that have been brought to them: « Shtandart case: answer to Michel Balique, President of the association « Les Amis des Grands Voiliers – Sail Training Association France » ». – (Fr)
Thus, the derogation from the 5th package of sanctions that your government granted to the Russian vessel Shtandart – France 3 (09/06/2022) – by granting it free access to French ports no longer seems appropriate to us.

We remind you that the Shtandart has already been subject to stopover bans in our country:

  • In Sète, the Prefect invoked the « risk of disturbing public order ». According to Cyril Vasseur, French volunteer sailor on board, this argument is only a pretext. The real cause would therefore be elsewhere – France 3 (06/04/2022).
  • In Bordeaux, the deputy mayor, Madame Brigitte Bloch, delegate for tourism, said: « We don’t know what use the Russians would make of this visit, in terms of propaganda » – Sud Ouest (09/06/2022).
  • In Lorient, Mayor Fabrice Loher clarified that « The Shtandart belongs to the Shtandart Project, based in Saint Petersburg, of which it is not known whether the company has direct links with the Russian state ». He added: « But we must also put pressure on Russian civil society » – Ouest France (01/03/2022).

Additionally, Aalborg and Esbjerg in Denmark, Antwerp in Belgium, and Arlingen in the Netherlands have been denied access to the Shtandart. This year, the Shtandart is therefore not allowed to take part in the « Tall Ships Races  » – France 3 (08/03/2022).

But the most obvious problem is indeed in La Rochelle where the association Aidons l’Ukraine 17, supposed to provide assistance to refugees and victims of the war in Ukraine, was transformed into a lobbying tool in favor of the Shtandart, after Ukrainians were excluded. On that matter, the Ukrainian embassy has contacted the prefecture of Charente-Maritime and the Municipality of La Rochelle. Mr. Oleksiy Goncharenko, Ukrainian deputy and member of the permanent Ukrainian delegation to the Council of Europe wrote to the Mayor of La Rochelle. Mr. Serhiy Kiral, First Deputy Mayor of Lviv, asked the Ukrainian presidential administration and the Yermak-McFaul group of experts to verify the validity of the Shtandart’s derogation regarding European sanctions. Finally, Ukrainian nationals have clearly expressed their opposition to the presence of the Shtandart in La Rochelle and to the modus operandi of its pressure group. This case is presented here: « The scandal of the Russian ship “Shtandart” in the port of La Rochelle » (Fr)

As a consequence, the Municipality of La Rochelle and the Prefect of Charente-Maritime asked the Shtandart to no longer hoist the Russian flag. In addition, they no longer allow the Shtandart to moor in the city center. Contrary to the initial enthusiasm, the boat must, from now on, during its passages, be hidden in the basin of the submarine base of La Rochelle La Pallice, which, moreover, is not accessible to the public – Sud Ouest (06/29/2022).

It should be noted that the Shtandart no longer has a training ship program. It is content with commercial activities, including the boarding of paying passengers. Even more worrying, it has deactivated its AIS identification system since June 6, 2022, thus hiding its position, route, speed and destination. See: Reporting to Maritime Authorities: Shandart, Russian tall ship, sailing in French territorial waters without AIS « (En)

In addition, the Russian ship Shtandart appeals to the generosity of the French public with not refraining from using Ukrainian colors while claiming to be an anti-Putin activist. See: « Sorry, Captain Martus, the « Shtandart » frigate is not an anti-putin ship. » (En)

Given the elements that we have presented to you, we believe that it is our duty to inform you of the close presence of this Russian vessel in the Iroise Sea, at the heart of the French base of the Atlantic Maritime Defense and of the Force Océanique Stratégique (ballistic nuclear sub-marines base). Indeed, we draw your attention to the fact that although not invited, the Shtandart has verbally indicated to us that it intends to participate, from July 10 to 14, 2022, in the 30th anniversary of the Maritime Festival of the Ponant great city. From July 14 to 17, it is scheduled to take part in Temps Fête, in Douarnenez, before heading to Vigo and then returning to La Rochelle.

As a result of the foregoing, we allow ourselves to ask you, Madam Prime Minister, to kindly cancel the derogation from the 5th part of the European sanctions granted to the Russian vessel Shtandart.

We ask you, Madam Prime Minister, to accept the expression of our highest consideration.

Signed by:

Oleh Sentsov, Simferopol, Former political prisoner of the Kremlin, movie director, honorary citizen of Paris, soldier of the Armed Forces of Ukraine

Roman Sushchenko, Cherkassy, Former Kremlin political prisoner, journalist, first deputy chairman of the Cherkassy Regional Council


Other articles in English and in Ukrainian about Shtandart’s case


Publié par Bernard Grua

Graduated from Paris "Institut d'Etudes Politiques", financial auditor, photographer, founder and spokesperson of the worldwide movement which opposed to the delivery of Mitral invasion vessels to Putin's Russia, contributor to French and foreign media for culture, heritage and geopolitics.

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