25 May 2019 18:04

UN tribunal ruling on Kerch incident "illegitimate" - Kosachyov

MOSCOW. May 25 (Interfax) - The decision by the United Nations' International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) over the Kerch Strait incident is illegitimate because it happened outside its jurisdiction, according to Konstantin Kosachyov, head of the foreign affairs committee in the Federation Council.

"The ITLOS decision granting Ukraine's demand to return the ships and release the crews arrested last year in relation to an attempt at illegal crossing of the Russian border cannot be considered to be legitimate because this incident is not in the jurisdiction of this court and the conventions it invokes," Kosachyov wrote on Facebook.

When signing the 1982 UN convention on the law of the sea Russia and Ukraine made specific reservations, which rule out consideration of the Kerch incident under the Convention's procedures, he said.

"This is a matter for two sides, Russia and Ukraine, one of which committed a gross provocation by trying to cross into the other side in violation of the commonly known procedures. No wonder Ruslan Khomchak, Ukraine's new Chief of the General Staff, has confirmed that sending vessels to the Kerch Strait back then was dangerous and that there were questions for the Ukrainian Navy Commander Ihor Voronchenko regarding the matter.

"Russia should stick to its position and continue to dismiss all Ukrainian attempts to internationalize the conflict situation and present it in the form of Russia's inadequate activities.

"The new government of Ukraine would be wise to recognize, put mildly, the erroneousness of the actions of its predecessors and resolve issues in the framework of legal norms applicable to this case."

On Saturday the ITLOS ruled that the Ukrainian sailors and the tug and two boats, detained by Russia in the Kerch Strait in November 2018, must be released and returned to Ukraine immediately.

The ruling came in a case brought by Ukraine on April 16.

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the ITLOS does not have the jurisdiction to adjudicate the "Kerch incident."

On November 25, 2018 armed Russian border guards detained the Ukrainian tug boat Yany Kapu and small armored artillery boats, Berdyansk and Nikopol, which were heading from Odesa to Mariupol. The vessels were convoyed to Kerch.

The 24 Ukrainians who were on board, including two national security officers, have been charged with "illegal border crossing by a group of accomplices or an organized crime group, or with the use or threat of violence " (part three of Article 322 of the Russian Criminal Code).