ITLOS orders immediate release of captured Ukrainian sailors and ships

ITLOS orders immediate release of captured Ukrainian sailors and ships

Ukrinform
The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea has ordered Russia to immediately release Ukrainian military ships and return them to the custody of Ukraine and to immediately release 24 captured sailors.

"The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea has ordered... taking the following measures: Russia must immediately release Ukrainian military ships - the Berdyansk, the Nikopol, and the Yani Kapu - and return them to the custody of Ukraine... must immediately release 24 sailors and allow them to return to Ukraine," Judge Jin-Hyun Paik, President of the Tribunal, read the order, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.

19 judges voted for the order. Only one judge voted against - Russian Kolodkin.

As Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine Olena Zerkal wrote on Facebook, "the order of the Tribunal is a clear signal for Russia that it cannot violate international law with impunity."

According to her, the detention of three warships and 24 sailors aboard is a gross violation of the immunity enjoyed by warships in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and general international law.

"We expect Russia to quickly and fully comply with the Tribunal's order. I remind that Russia also did not participate in a similar case, the Arctic Sunrise, but it freed people shortly after. More details later," she added.

As reported, on November 25, 2018, Russian border guards fired on and seized three Ukrainian Navy ships, the Berdyansk, the Nikopol, and the Yani Kapu, heading from Odesa to Mariupol, near the Kerch Strait. In addition, their crewmembers, 24 Ukrainian sailors, were captured. Three of them were wounded.

A Russian-controlled court in the occupied Crimea arrested all the detained Ukrainian sailors on charges of alleged illegal border crossing. They are held in a remand prison in Moscow now.

On January 24, 2019, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a resolution officially requiring Russia to treat captured Ukrainian sailors in accordance with the Geneva Convention provisions on prisoners of war.

Ukraine appealed to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea requiring the Russian Federation to release the captured naval vessels and return them to the custody of Ukraine, to suspend criminal proceedings against 24 detained sailors, to release them and allow them to return to Ukraine.

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