The UN International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ordered Russia to release three Ukrainian ships and 24 sailors of the Ukrainian Navy who were captured in the Kerch Strait in November 2018, reports Interfax-Ukraine.
"Russian Federation shall immediately release the Ukrainian military ships Berdyansk, Nikopol and Yany Kapu and return them to Ukraine", — stated in the decision of the Tribunal, which was read out in Hamburg by the judge Jin-Hyun Paik.
Nineteen judges voted for this decision. Ruslan Kolodkin from Russia was the only judge who voted against it.
In turn, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that the incident on captured sailors is outside of the jurisdiction of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea cannot be used in resolving the dispute.
On 25 November last year, Russia attacked and captured the Ukrainian military boats Berdyansk and Nikopol and the tugboat Yany Kapu in neutral waters. All 24 Ukrainians on board were accused of violating the Russian state border, arrested, and transferred from Kerch to Moscow. Ukraine considered this an act of military aggression, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe recognized the captured sailors as prisoners of war.
US President Donald Trump canceled his planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin because of the Kerch Strait incident. US Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker similarly called off his scheduled negotiation session with Russian Presidential Aide Vladislav Surkov.
Oleksandr Turchynov, former Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said in December that Ukraine had invited its international partners to take part in a passage of naval ships from the Black Sea into the Sea of Azov through the Kerch Strait. The Russian media warned that this could “aggravate the situation”.