BERLIN, May 25. /TASS/. The United Nations International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ruled that Russia should release 24 Ukrainian sailors detained for violating the state border in the Kerch Strait, and hand over three confiscated vessels to Ukraine, President of the Tribunal Jin-Hyun Paik said on Saturday.
Before the meeting, the Ukrainian side asked the tribunal to order Russia to return Ukrainian vessels, to immediately release 24 detained sailors and allow them to return to Ukraine, and to stop criminal prosecution of sailors and to refrain from new investigations. The Tribunal found Kiev’s first two demands rational, but ruled that it does not consider it necessary to demand Moscow to stop criminal prosecution and refrain from initiating new cases, although it believes that it would be reasonable.
The Tribunal urged both parties to avoid steps that could escalate the situation in the Kerch Strait. According to the organization, absence of the Russian side at the hearing could not be a reason not to consider the case.
The Russian side did not participate in the hearings. In the note sent to the tribunal by the Russian Embassy in Germany, it was noted that, from the point of view of the Russian side, the tribunal has no jurisdiction to review the Kerch incident.
Three ships of the Ukrainian Naval Forces on November 25, 2018, violated the procedure for the passage of the territorial waters of the Russian Federation en route from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov, ignoring legal requirements of the border guards to stop. They were detained and taken to Kerch, later court arrested their crews on charges of illegally crossing the border of the Russian Federation.