Zerkal asks ITLOS to take measures that will make Russia return Ukrainian seamen

Zerkal asks ITLOS to take measures that will make Russia return Ukrainian seamen

Ukraine asks the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) to apply interim measures demanding that Russia immediately free Ukrainian naval vessels and their crew members.

Ukraine's Deputy Foreign Minister Olena Zerkal said this in an opening speech at a hearing of the ITLOS on a lawsuit filed by Ukraine against Russia in the case on the illegal detention of 24 sailors, according to an Ukrinform correspondent.

"Every additional day of detention, every new investigative action or interrogation, any court session only aggravate the dispute between the parties. The damage done to Ukraine, its naval vessels and their crew members, is serious and is growing day by day. The situation needs to be resolved immediately. Therefore, today Ukraine is asking the tribunal to apply temporary measures that will demand that Russia immediately release Ukraine's naval ships and their crew members and return them to Ukraine," Zerkal said.

Russia's behavior, according to her, is a flagrant violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and customary international law. She said that Crimea is an integral part of Ukraine, and the waters in which the vessels were detained, are the territorial waters of Ukraine or its exclusive economic zone. However, Russia's actions would, in any event, violate the Convention, even if Russia detained Ukrainian warships in its territorial waters or exclusive maritime economic zone. The immunity of warships is a fundamental immunity of the sovereign in the international system. The warships and their personnel cannot be arrested by law enforcement agencies of foreign states and subjected to the jurisdiction of foreign courts, Zerkal said.

She expressed disappointment and regret that Russia had once again decided not to take part in proceedings on interim measures in the ITLOS. According to her, it was a surprise to Ukraine because the Russian delegation took part in a preparatory telephone call with the chairman of the tribunal on April 23, 2019.


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