Zerkal thinks Russia will soon return Ukrainian sailors

Zerkal thinks Russia will soon return Ukrainian sailors

Ukraine's Deputy Foreign Minister for European Integration Olena Zerkal has said she is convinced that Russia will soon release captured Ukrainian seamen in a manner not related to the decision of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).

She said this on Channel 5.

"I am convinced that Russians will soon enough return our sailors in their own manner, which will not be connected with the decision of the Tribunal. They will present it as their own decision, as the will of [Russian President] Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin], as it happened in another case related to Greenpeace and a ship called Arctic Sunrise. They also pretended that they did not comply with the Tribunal's decision, but they fulfilled everything and even paid compensation," Zerkal said.

When asked whether this decision could be related to "compliments" to the new Ukrainian authorities that Russia has begun to reach agreement, Zerkal said: "I think, maybe, they will also present it like this, but everything is very clear for the world – there is the decision of the Tribunal. The decision of the Tribunal must be fulfilled, especially when it concerns the immunity of warships, and warships are possessed by all the countries that are in this convention."

She added that the ITLOS decision for Ukraine "is really a victory, especially with a score of 19 to 1".

Zerkal also commented on reports in the media that due to such a decision by the Tribunal, it will be difficult for European countries to walk the path of lifting sanctions against the Russian Federation.

"If we return to events that took place in November and December, when Russians insisted that [...] they had the right to do so and that Ukraine was to blame for this incident, then even our partners in Germany and France had such doubts, that Russians might be right. But here we have proof that this is not a Ukrainian position, that this is the decision of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, that we did not violate anything, that Russia was a violator. It is not just an instrument for us. It really testifies that we have evidence of our rightness," Zerkal.

On May 25, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea demanded that Russia immediately release three Ukrainian vessels and 24 seamen who were captured in the Kerch Strait last November. The Tribunal acknowledged that Ukrainian ships had the right to pass through the Kerch Strait, while Russia acted within a law enforcement operation, rather than a military operation, as the Russian Federation itself insisted. The decision of the Tribunal is binding.

Russia, in turn, once again stated that the Tribunal has no jurisdiction to consider this issue.


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