Leonid Osavoliuk, Ukraine's representative on the contractual and legal registration of the state border of Ukraine (2011-2016), wrote this in an article for Ukraine's Mirror Weekly newspaper (DT.UA).
"Even more flagrant violation is the detention by Russian warships of such ships in the Ukrainian part of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait. It should be taken into account that main navigable routes pass precisely in the Ukrainian inland waters of these water areas. An exception for the stopping of vessels, including Russian ones, may be only the order of the passage along the Kerch Strait. The international law of the sea also allows warships to inspect foreign vessels, but only in case of suspicion of piracy, slave trade, unauthorized broadcasting, etc," the diplomat said.
He recalled that Article 2 of the December 24, 2003 agreement between Ukraine and Russia on cooperation in the use of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait stipulates that merchant vessels and warships, as well as other state vessels under the flag of Ukraine or the Russian Federation, use the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait by the freedom of navigation. Merchant vessels flying the flags of third states may enter the Sea of Azov and pass through the Kerch Strait if they are traveling to or from a Ukrainian or Russian port.
Accordingly, in accordance with the agreement, neither Ukraine nor Russia have the right to detain or inspect in the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov a Russian or Ukrainian vessel, as well as ships of third states traveling to Ukrainian or Russian ports, Osavoliuk said.
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