Ukraine Pleads Today Before the Arbitration Tribunal in The Hague in the Case of Russia’s Seizure of Three Ukrainian Naval Vessels and Their Crew
12 October 2021 12:51

On 12 October 2021, at 2 PM Kyiv time, Ukrainian delegation will plead before the Arbitration tribunal in The Hague in the case against the Russian Federation concerning the violation of the immunity of Ukrainian naval vessels and their crew.

Oksana Zolotaryova, Director of the International Law Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, who represents Ukraine at the hearings, informed about the position of our state in the arbitration.

“The case is of exceptional importance for Ukraine and the entire system of international law as it deals with the violation of one of the fundamental principles of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and international law as such - the absolute immunity of warships,” said Oksana Zolotaryova.

She reminded of the position of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba, who attaches priority to the systematic work of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine on holding Russia accountable for its crimes.

Oksana Zolotaryova is convinced that Ukraine will demonstrate, despite Russia’s attempts to present the incident as “military activity”, that Russia violated immunity of Ukrainian naval ships: “We will demonstrate that the activities in the Black Sea do not fall within the military activities exception under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The Russian side knew about the passage of ships in advance. The seizure took place outside the 12-mile zone, and Ukrainian servicemen were detained and prosecuted for nine months. Such actions cannot be considered as military activity. This is a gross violation of international law of the sea”.

The diplomat reminded that in May 2019, at the request of Ukraine, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ordered binding provisional measures requiring Russia to immediately release three Ukrainian naval vessels and 24 detained servicemen. In spite of the order, Russia continued to detain the vessels and crew, and released them only in September and November 2019, without closing criminal cases against the Ukrainian navy afterwards.

“We are confident in our legal standing and resolute to prove Russia’s actions unlawful. It should be held accountable for them”, summarized the Director of the International Law Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.

Ukraine aims to hold the Russian Federation accountable for arresting and detaining three Ukrainian naval vessels and 24 members of their crew in the Black Sea in November 2018.

Bringing the Russian Federation to international legal responsibility for its violations is among priority goals of the Foreign Policy Strategy of Ukraine.

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