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Ukrainian Embassy in Cairo released statement on Azov crisis

Wed, 28.11.2018 15:28



On Tuesday, 27 deсember, Embassy of Ukraine in Cairo held a press-conference for journalists and diplomats, where it were revealed details on russian agression and attack on ukrainian navy vessels in Azov sea.

Information about current security situation in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov due to the deliberate provocation and aggressive behaviour of the Russian Federation. Below we cite the statement published following the event:

On Sunday, November 25 a group of vessels, namely two small-sized «Berdiansk» and «Nikopol» armored artillery boats and the «Yany Kapu» (Yanı Qapı) tugboat of Ukraine's Navy were carrying out a planned transfer from the port of Odesa to the port of Mariupol of the Sea of Azov.

Acting strictly in accordance with the multilateral and bilateral international treaties, Ukraine has informed the Russians and the de-facto authorities of the Kerch Seaport through traditional channels of communication (VHF radio) of our legitimate intention to pass through the Kerch-Yenikale canal.  

We’ve tried to establish the radio communication with the Kerch Seaport for more than two hours, but without any success. Later, we were informed that the Kerch-Yenikale canal was closed due to the grounding of a ship (presumably, a tanker) on the opposite side of the canal (from the Sea of Azov).

Though a 2003 “Treaty between Ukraine and the Russian Federation on cooperation in the use of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait” designates the Kerch Strait and Sea of Azov as shared territorial waters, Russia first stopped Ukrainian navy vessels from entering the Sea of Azov via the Kerch Strait by placing a huge cargo ship beneath a Russian-controlled bridge.

Despite the fact that this was a planned and absolutely legal maritime operation, which did not envisage any military actions, Russian warships used weapons against the Ukrainian warships and captured them in the neutral waters of the Black Sea.

Contrary to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Treaty between Ukraine and the Russian Federation on Cooperation in the Use of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait, Russian ships – Sobol-class patrol boats, the 'Don' coast guard ship, Mangust-class patrol boats, and the «Suzdalets» corvette – carried out openly aggressive acts against the ships of the Ukrainian Navy. According to the Ukrainian Navy, Russia open fire at small-sized «Berdiansk» and «Nikopol» armored artillery boats. The boats have been damaged and lost ability to move. The «Yany Kapu» (Yanı Qapı) tugboat also lost ability to move following Russian assault. Six Ukrainian crew members have been wounded, two gravely, one in critical condition. After this attack and seizure of the ships, connection with the Ukrainian ships was lost.

Russian special forces have captured all the three Ukrainian ships. The detained ships were forced to be sent to Kerch under Russian military guidance.

All illegal actions have been recorded by the crews of the ships and the command of Ukraine's Navy and reports will be handed over to the respective international agencies.

UKRAINE CONSIDERS RUSSIAN ACTIONS AS ACT OF AGGRESSION.

The President of Ukraine has condemned Russia’s violation of norms of the international law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. He has called international community to condemn Russian actions and introduce sanctions against Kremlin.

The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine under the chairmanship of President Petro Poroshenko approved the decision to offer the President of Ukraine the introduction of martial law for a period of 60 days. The NSDC considers it necessary to introduce a special legal regime in Ukraine in order to create conditions for repelling armed aggression and ensuring national security, eliminating threats to independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Adoption of the martial law doesn’t mean declaring war against Russia; Ukraine is ready to settle the situation in political and diplomatic way, at the same time is ready to use all the forces for self-defense.

Ukraine’s President Poroshenko has called Ukrainian Parliament to support Ukraine's National Security and Defence Council’s decision to impose 60 days long martial law following the act of Russian aggression against Ukraine in the Azov Sea.

The President of Ukraine appealed to the leadership of the Russian Federation demanding the immediate release of Ukrainian servicemen who were brutally detained in violation of international law and whose fate is unknown. The President also noted that Ukraine requires to hand them over to the Ukrainian side together with the ships urgently. He called for the de-escalation of the situation both in the Sea of Azov and in other directions. The Head of State expects a quick reaction to this appeal.

LEGAL GROUNDS

In accordance with Articles 17, 38 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (hereinafter referred to as the UN Convention) and Article 2 of the “Treaty between Ukraine and the Russian Federation on cooperation in the use of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait” (hereinafter referred to as the Treaty), Ukrainian warships enjoy freedom of navigation in the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov, and therefore can pass through the Kerch Strait at any time, subject to the safety of navigation.

Article 17 of the UN Convention states that, subject to compliance with the Convention, vessels of all states, both coastal and landlocked, enjoy the right to peaceful passage through the territorial sea.

Part 1, Article 36 of the UN Convention states that in the straits referred to in Article 37 of the UN Convention, all ships and aircraft shall enjoy the right of transit passage which shall not be obstructed.

Part 1, Article 2 of the Treaty between Ukraine and the Russian Federation provides that trade vessels and warships, as well as other state-owned vessels under the flag of Ukraine or the Russian Federation, operated for non-commercial purposes, use the freedom of navigation in the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait.

It should be noted that the boundary ship the «Don» made a battering RAM RAID a Ukrainian tugboat «Yana Kapu» damaging the main engine of the ship, the trim and railing. Such Russian actions fall under the signs of an Act of aggression in accordance with the definition of Article 3, paragraph d), of Resolution No. 3314 (XXIX) of the General Assembly of the United Nations of December 14, 1974, namely: act aggression is, in particular, an attack by the armed forces of the State on land, naval or air forces, or naval and air fleets of another State.

According to Article 2 of the UN Charter all member states shall refrain from the threat of use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state - what Russia did today in the Black Sea first and then near the Kerch Strait by attacking Ukrainian vessels constitute a new example of ongoing act of aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine.

UN GA Resolution /29/3314 of 14 December 1974 regardless of a declaration of war qualifies as an act of aggression an attack by the armed forces of a State on the land, sea or air forces, or marine and air fleets of another State (Article 3(d)).

Further aggravation by the Russians of the security situation in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov cannot be ruled out.

We expect further aggressive behavior and provocations of the FSB Border Guard Service and Russian Navy.

It isKremlin’s regime who bears full responsibility for further aggravation of the situation in the Azov and Black Seas and for undermining the peaceful settlement of the Russian-Ukrainian armed conflict.

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Opinions expressed below do not reflect the opinions of SP "Ukraine in Arabic," they only reflect the views of the author.



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