Zerkal: Ukraine involves all partners in putting pressure on Russia to release captured sailors

Zerkal: Ukraine involves all partners in putting pressure on Russia to release captured sailors

Ukraine involves all partners in putting pressure on Russia for the immediate release of captured Ukrainian sailors.

“We continue the struggle, we involve all our partners in putting pressure on Russia. This issue is raised at all meetings at the highest levels. This issue was discussed during the meeting between Putin and Trump in Osaka. Of course, this issue will be on the agenda of the UN General Assembly in September. A new political season is about to begin, and a new level of struggle for our sailors will begin for us," Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister for European Integration Olena Zerkal said in an interview with BBC News Ukraine.

The memorials have already been submitted to the International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and are being considered now, she added.

"We are now actually in the middle of the process and await judgments which should be delivered before the end of the year. The first judgment is to concern the violations of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in connection with illegal actions of the Russian Federation in the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait. We expect this judgment to be delivered in September or October at the latest. It depends on the arbitrators: when they will be ready with a decision. So far there has been no final communication. And by the end of December there will be a judgment on jurisdiction over violations of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism,” the deputy foreign minister noted.

According to her, the next round of hearings on the merits may be scheduled no earlier than in a year and a half.

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’s 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.

On May 25, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ordered Russia to immediately release three Ukrainian naval vessels and 24 captured sailors.


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