SIMFEROPOL, September 22. /TASS/. Two ships of the Ukrainian Navy have crossed into Russia’s exclusive economic zone off Crimea and are being escorted by ships of the Russian FSB Border Service’s Coast Guard, Crimea’s Border Service branch told reporters on Saturday.
"At the moment, two ships of Ukraine’s Navy - the Donbas command ship and the Korets tug - are off Crimea’s coast, in the Russian exclusive economic zone, going in the northeastern direction," says the statement.
"In line with norms of the international maritime legislation and in interests of security of the Russian Federation, they are escorted by ships of the Coast Guard of the Russian Federal Security Service’s (FSB) Border Service," it said.
The border department has pointed out that the ships are escorted at a safe distance.
A source with the Crimean law enforcement agencies told TASS, that the Ukrainian ships were going off the Black Sea peninsula’s southern shore towards the Strait of Kerch, beyond 12-mile zone of the Russian territorial waters. The Russian state border has not been violated, but the exclusive economic zone lies beyond it and the area might extend up to 200 nautical miles off the coast.
Russia’s exclusive economic zone is an area which is beyond, and is adjacent to the territorial seas of the Russian Federation and is subject to specific legal regulations. Any state enjoys the freedom of navigation and overflight there. The coastal state has sovereign rights to explore, exploit and conserve natural resources and might allow other states to carry out economic and research activity in its exclusive economic zone.
The PM-9 was a repair ship of the Soviet Navy built in Poland in 1969. It was later renamed as the Krasnodon and in 2001 again renamed as the Donbas. After a split of the Black Sea Fleet in 1997, it was converted to a command ship of the Ukrainian Navy. According to the Ukrainian Navy, the Donbas command ship had been in unsatisfactory technical condition. After the overhaul of 2010, the Donbas set sail on January 21, 2011 flying the Ukrainian flag.
Following Crimea’s reunification with Russia, the ship was handed over to Ukraine along with other military equipment.