Beginning on 11 October 2021, Ukraine will participate in a hearing in its case against Russia concerning Russia’s violation of the immunity of Ukraine’s naval vessels and servicemen. The hearing, which is before an arbitral tribunal constituted under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (“UNCLOS”), concerns objections made by Russia to the Tribunal’s jurisdiction.
The case concerns Russia’s violations of UNCLOS when it arrested three Ukrainian naval vessels and the 24 servicemen on board in the Black Sea on 25 November 2018, continued to detain the vessels for nearly a year and the servicemen for nearly nine and a half months, and prosecuted the servicemen under Russia’s criminal law. Under UNCLOS, naval vessels and the personnel on board have absolute immunity, meaning that foreign nations may not board them, arrest them, detain them, or subject them to legal proceedings. Russia’s actions violated this fundamental principle of international law. Ukraine already proved Russia’s gross violation of international law, securing on 25 May 2019 a binding provisional measures order from the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS). By a vote of 19-1, ITLOS ordered Russia to immediately release the naval vessels and servicemen.
Russia exercised its right to file jurisdictional objections, to which Ukraine has responded, and which will now be addressed at the oral hearings. Ukraine is confident that the Tribunal will find that it has jurisdiction over Ukraine’s claims and that Russia will ultimately be held accountable for its serious violations of the law of the sea.
The Russian Federation will deliver its first round of oral arguments on 11 October 2021 and Ukraine will deliver its first round of oral arguments on 12 October 2021.
On each day, the opening statement will be made at 2:00 p.m. Kyiv time (1:00 pm CEST) and will be publicly available via livestream here: