Pro-Kremlin channel Russia Today says France operation closing

FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen on a TV screen in a hotel during a live news broadcast of the Russia Today (RT) channel TV, in Madrid

(Reuters) - The French arm of the Russian state-owned RT television network said on Saturday it was shutting down after authorities used European Union sanctions to freeze its bank accounts.

Late last February, shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine, the European Union said it would ban Russia Today on the grounds it had been spreading disinformation about the war. RT (Russia Today) France appealed the ban but lost.

Xenia Fedorova, the head of RT France, tweeted that French authorities had cited a ninth EU package of sanctions agreed last December.

"The funds of RT France are frozen at the request of the general directorate of the Treasury ... our channel can no longer continue its activity," she said.

In March, the European Union's Court of Justice on Wednesday rejected a RT France bid for a temporary reprieve.

In a separate statement, RT France said 133 employees' jobs were at risk and called itself "a breath of fresh air" that had covered the war in a balanced way.

It accused the French authorities of censorship and said RT France had never been condemned or sanctioned for any reason.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Alistair Bell)