European Court of Human Rights demands that Russia explain why it detained Ukrainian sailors

The press service of the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice reported that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has requested  that Russia provide information regarding the 24 Ukrainian sailors who were captured on November 25 when Russian border patrol ships attacked and seized two Ukrainian Navy vessels and a tugboat in the Kerch Strait.

One of the court’s main requirements is for Russia to explain why Ukrainian soldiers were detained in the territorial waters of the Crimea and on what legal basis.

The Court also wants information about the location where the detained sailors are held, if there is anyone injured and what medical treatment is provided to them.

The Court has requested that Russia provide this information by December 3.

Earlier, Ukraine asked the ECHR to initiate interim measures concerning captured Ukrainian sailors by Russia under the Rule 39 of the Rules of Court.

On the morning of November 25, Ukraine informed the Russian port of its intention to transfer three ships through the Kerch Strait, as required by the Agreement on the joint use of the Azov Sea and Kerch Strait. However, at around 8:00 a.m., Russian ships carried out acts of provocation against the Ukrainian vessels, even ramming into the Yany Kapu tugboat.

Russia later accused the Ukrainian ships of illegally entering its territorial waters, claiming that they were “maneuvering dangerously” and “not complying with the legitimate demands of the Russian authorities”. Russia also physically blocked the Kerch Strait with a transport ship. The Ukrainian ships decided to return to Odessa, but they were chased and subsequently attacked by the Russian military. The Berdiansk and Nikopol boats were hit, and two crew members were wounded. All three of the ships were seized by Russia.

On November 28, the Kremlin-controlled court of Simferopol placed the Ukrainian sailors under 2 months of arrest – until January 25, 2019.

  Ukraine, ECHR, Russia, Crimea, Kerch Strait