All news

Kerch Strait incident not within jurisdiction of international arbitration — diplomat

In particular, this is because the dispute concerns military activities, Ambassador at Large of the Russian Foreign Ministry Dmitry Lobach explained

THE HAGUE, October 11. /TASS/. The incident in the Kerch Strait of November 2018 does not fall under the jurisdiction of international arbitration, Ambassador at Large of the Russian Foreign Ministry Dmitry Lobach told hearings in The Hague on Monday.

"The demands of the Ukrainian side go beyond the jurisdiction of this international arbitration," he said. In particular, this is because the dispute concerns military activities. Also, according to Lobach, Ukraine’s suit "is based on the principle of immunity of warships in the territorial waters, an issue that is not regulated by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea" which underlies the trial. Besides, Ukraine "did not engage in a direct exchange of opinions as a way of resolving differences," which is a mandatory requirement before international arbitration can be started, the ambassador at large noted.

On November 25, 2018, three Ukrainian naval ships violated navigation laws in Russia’s territorial waters on the way from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov. Military force had to be used to stop them in the Kerch Strait. The ships were detained, the 24 crewmembers arrested and charged with violating the Russian state border.

On September 7, 2019, Russia and Ukraine exchanged groups of detainees and convicted individuals. Both countries carried out a 35-for-35 swap. The 24 Ukrainian sailors were allowed to leave for home in the exchange. On November 18, 2019, Russia handed over the ships held into custody to Ukraine.

The lawsuit regarding the detention of Ukrainian warships and seamen by Russia in the Kerch Strait in November 2018 was filed by Ukraine on April 1, 2019. The Ukrainian side demanded that Russia’s violation of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea be recognized. In August 2020, the Russian side filed preliminary objections in the case, calling into question the jurisdiction of the arbitration. The hearings are scheduled to take place before October 16 and will concern exactly the preliminary objections filed by Russia.

Russia presents its arguments at a session on October 11, while on October 12, the floor will be given to the Ukrainian delegation. A second round of hearings is scheduled for October 14-15, while October 16 has been reserved in case it is required. The Russian delegation is led by Lobach, while the Ukrainian one - by Oksana Zolotaryova, the director of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry’s international law department. Sessions in The Hague take place in a hybrid format, under which some members of the delegations and judges attend in person, while others join via a video link.