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Ukraine presents its position at hearing in The Hague on seizure of Ukrainian ships by Russia near Kerch Strait

KYIV. Oct 12 (Interfax-Ukraine) – Ukraine has presented its position at the hearing of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague on the case of the Russian seizure of three Ukrainian warships and their crews in the Kerch Strait region.

"We are here to protect not only Ukraine, but also a rules-based international order on the seas. Ukraine also has a different reason for this case. We are doing this for the sake of 24 of our brave military personnel who suffered because of Russia’s disrespect for international law. Russia took away their freedom and kept them from their families for 9.5 months," Director of the International Law Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Oksana Zolotaryova said.

She read out the names of all 24 sailors "whom Russia has illegally arrested, held and prosecuted, and who deserve justice."

"The Russian Federation violated the fundamental principle of maritime law – the immunity of a warship. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea guarantees this immunity. This means that the ships of the Ukrainian naval forces – Berdiansk, Nikopol and Yany Kapu – are the embodiment of our sovereignty and as such deserve respect. However, Russia does not respect international law. Nor does it respect the sovereignty of Ukraine," Zolotaryova noted.

She indicated that the Russian Federation does not want this arbitration to hear this case, and avoids settling the dispute in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, even though it has given its consent to this.

"Russia believes that it can violate international law without consequences. Russia is wrong. Many of its arguments were rejected by the UN International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. This tribunal in Hamburg issued an order that made Russia to immediately release our ships and troops. This order was approved by 19 votes against one – as required by common sense," she explained.

Zolotaryova pointed out that Russia also "has problems with facts."

"During yesterday’s presentations [Russia’s position], you were told that there is no real dispute regarding the facts, so I was very surprised to hear a number of statements that are not based on reality. I know the dossier of this case and the testimony of our military, they tell a completely different story. Yesterday you were also presented with the wrong picture of the essence of the dispute and the wrong approach to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Today we will show you what the dispute really concerns," Zolotaryova emphasized.