In the near future, Ukraine plans to initiate a new wave of pressure on Russia to release the sailors who were captured at the end of November 2018, retired Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin told the “5 Channel” TV station in an interview.
The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea has ordered Russia to immediately release the 24 Ukrainian sailors and the captured ships and to send the tribunal an initial report confirming its compliance by 25 June. The new wave of pressure will be linked to that date, Klimkin noted.
“We have 25 June. After that, we will start a new wave of pressure on international platforms. This pressure will be short-term, since we need to achieve a result, but there will also be medium-term pressure, since a result of this could be the restriction of Russian maritime activity, and military activity,” Klimkin said.
The former minister believes that, if the tribunal’s decision is not complied with, “it will be clear to everyone that Russia is violating the Sea Convention, and that is not a simple thing for the civilized world”.
On 25 November 2018, Russian border guards seized three Ukrainian ships in the neutral waters of the Black Sea. The crews of the two artillery boats and one tugboat (24 people) were taken to Simferopol, Crimea, where the Russia-controlled court placed all the Ukrainians under arrest. The following day, the sailors were relocated to Moscow, where they remain to this day.
On 25 May this year, the UN’s International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ruled that Russia must release all the Ukrainian sailors and return the three ships. Russia has said that it will not comply with the tribunal’s demands.
On the same day, a court in Moscow rejected the appeals of the Ukrainian prisoners of war, and ordered that they remain in custody until the end of July.