Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Rodion Tymoshenko said this at a briefing, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.
"The special cynicism of Russia's actions is that the Russian Federation declared to respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine [...] However, according to the legislation of Ukraine and international norms, the Russian Federation has committed an act of aggression against the sovereign state of Ukraine," Tymoshenko said.
He demonstrated a radio intercept of talks between Russian military during the Russian attack on Ukrainian military sailors in the Kerch Strait and commented on the situation in terms of international law.
"According to Articles 17 and 38 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and Article 2 of the treaty between Ukraine and the Russian Federation on cooperation in the use of the Azov Sea and the Kerch Strait, Ukrainian warships enjoy freedom of navigation in the Kerch Strait and the Azov Sea. Consequently, they can pass at any time if they ensure the safety of navigation. In accordance with Part 1 of Article 2 of this treaty, merchant ships and warships, as well as other vessels flying the flag of Ukraine or the Russian Federation, enjoy the freedom of navigation in the Kerch Strait and the Azov Sea," Tymoshenko said.
He recalled that fire was opened on Ukrainian ships, and in accordance with Article 1 of the law "On the Defense of Ukraine," armed aggression is the use by another state of weapons against Ukraine. In this case, armed aggression means the attack of the armed forces of another state on naval forces or on the civilian navy of Ukraine, which took place on November 25 on the part of the Russian Federation. Therefore, from the point of view of Ukrainian legislation, the introduction of martial law as a special legal regime is quite logical, Tymoshenko said.
He paid special attention to the issue of immunity of warships in accordance with Articles 32 and 95 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Tymoshenko noted that the Russian side had posted information on the closure of a certain sea area for navigation only on November 25, when Ukrainian ships actually entered the Kerch Strait.
"The Russian side's warning about closing the entrance to the Kerch Strait from the Black Sea side was posted on the official website only at about 11.40 on November 25, that is, actually after the arrival of a group of ships of the Ukrainian Navy to the Kerch Strait. In any case, if a warship violates the laws and regulations of a coastal state pertaining to the passage through the territorial sea, in accordance with Article 30 of the UN Convention, a coastal state has the right to demand the immediate withdrawal of ships from territorial waters, but in no case it should use weapons without for any reason. The actions of the Russian Federation, in particular, creating obstacles to free navigation in the Kerch Strait, pursuit, ramming, shelling and capture of small armored Ukrainian boats and a tugboat of the Ukrainian Armed Forces - are classified as an act of aggression in accordance with Article 3 of UN General Assembly Resolution 3314 of December 14, 1974," Tymoshenko said.
On November 25, Russian border vessels committed aggressive actions against three Ukrainian ships that set sail from the port of Odesa to the port of Mariupol in the Azov Sea. After that, Russian special forces opened fire on the Ukrainian tugboat Yany Kapu, small armored artillery boats Berdiansk and Nikopol in the Kerch Strait and seized them. There were 23 sailors on board the ships, and six of them were wounded.
Russia announced its intention to try detained Ukrainian sailors for allegedly illegal crossing of the Russian state border.
On November 26, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting on the situation in Ukraine related to the latest developments in the Black and Azov Seas.
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