STATEMENT OF THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF UKRAINE ON THE ORDER OF THE INTERNATIONAL TRIBUNAL FOR THE LAW OF THE SEA 25.05.2019

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Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine on the Order of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea concerning the Detention of Three Ukrainian Naval Vessels and The Twenty-Four Servicemen on Board by Russia

Today, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea issued the order, whereby the Russian Federation must immediately release Ukrainian vessels the Berdyansk, the Nikopol and the Yany Kapu, return them to Ukraine, as well as immediately release the detained Ukrainian servicemen.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is pleased with the fact that the Tribunal delivered the order on provisional measures required by Ukraine.

The order contains a serious signal that Russia may not violate the international right with impunity. Capture of the three naval vessels and the 24 servicemen on board is a gross violation of immunity enjoyed by naval vessels in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and customary international law.

According to the Tribunal, the actions taken by the Russian Federation may cause irreparable harm to the immunity rights of Ukrainian naval vessels and servicemen claimed by Ukraine if the arbitral tribunal constituted under Annex VII recognizes that Ukraine enjoys those rights. In addition, the Tribunal considers that the risk of irreparable harm is real in these circumstances.

Today's order concerns the case, as well as the relevant request for provisional measures submitted by Ukraine to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in April 2019.

The case, initiated on 1 April 2019, concerns the violation by Russia of the absolute immunity of three Ukrainian vessels and twenty-four servicemen on board. On 25 November 2018, the Russian Federation illegally seized Ukrainian vessels and servicemen and keeps detaining them today, thereby violating the international law.

In particular, seizure of naval vessels and servicemen violates the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and customary international law, which guarantees full immunity to warships and their personnel, including from the seizure, detention and all forms of national legal procedures.

The request for provisional measures addressed by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea is to obtain protection from further irreparable harm to the rights of Ukraine during the hearing of the case on the merits.