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25 May, 2019 13:05

UN maritime convention can’t be applied to Kerch Strait incident with Ukraine – Moscow

UN maritime convention can’t be applied to Kerch Strait incident with Ukraine – Moscow

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea is urging Russia to hand over Ukrainian ships and crew detained for “border violation” off Crimea in 2018. Moscow has hit back, saying the body has no jurisdiction here.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Moscow had made an opt-out while ratifying the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea which now effectively “excludes” its rules from being applied to the case with Ukraine. The opt-out in question allows Russia not to follow the international rulings on issues of its borders, military and national security.

Stressing this point, the ministry again lamented the “irresponsible” behavior of Ukrainian sailors during the incident almost a year ago.

Moscow’s statement came right after the maritime court ruled that Russia must release the Ukrainian sailors and return the seized warships before the sides can present further arguments to the court. Russia skipped the hearing (which took place in Hamburg, Germany).

Also on rt.com Kerch Strait standoff: Ukrainian Navy consciously ignored orders to stop, FSB says

Kiev is suing Moscow over the standoff in the Kerch Strait, which connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Azov, near Crimea. On November 25, the Russian Coast Guard captured two Ukrainian gunboats and a tugboat which it says violated its maritime borders.

The Ukrainian ships were then towed to the Russian port city of Kerch. They had 24 crewmen on board, all of whom were arrested and later formally charged with illegally crossing Russia’s border.

Ukraine denied that its ships had violated Russia’s border. Then-president Petro Poroshenko called the seizure of the warships “an act of aggression” and demanded the “immediate” release of the sailors.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin for his part hit back saying that the incident was a deliberate “provocation” orchestrated by the Ukrainian authorities.

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