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Ukraine proves today in the Hague Russia's violation of immunity of Ukrainian warships – MFA

KYIV. Oct 12 (Interfax-Ukraine) – Ukraine on Tuesday, October 12, is proving in the Arbitration Court in The Hague that the Russian Federation has violated the immunity of Ukrainian warships, Oleh Nikolenko, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, has said.

"Systematic work of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in international courts to protect the interests of Ukraine and its citizens is the priority for Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. This week in The Hague hearings on the existence of jurisdiction in the Arbitration to consider the case on the merits are continuing," Nikolenko wrote on Facebook on Tuesday.

He stressed that Ukraine’s position is clear – Russia’s actions grossly violated the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

"Warships and their crews are endowed with absolute immunity. Foreign states are prohibited from inspecting, seizing, restraining and prosecuting them. Ukraine is represented by a powerful team of highly professional Ukrainian and international lawyers. Determined to prove the nullity of Russia’s arguments and bring it to international legal responsibility," said Nikolenko.

As reported, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) on October 11-16 will hold hearings of the Ukrainian and Russian sides in the case of the seizure of Ukrainian ships and sailors in the Kerch Strait region. As part of the second stage of the hearings, the Russian Federation will present its arguments on October 14, Ukraine on October 15, and on October 16, if necessary, an additional meeting will take place. After the opening statement, which will be broadcast in real time, and until the end of the hearings, public access to the materials of the hearings will not be available. The PCA notes that it will issue press releases from time to time regarding the status of the proceedings.

As reported, in 2016, Ukraine filed a lawsuit against the Russian Federation before the UN International Court of Justice on violation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), in the framework of which arbitration was established to consider this case. On May 22, 2019, Russia filed an objection with the International Arbitration Tribunal regarding its jurisdiction to consider Ukraine’s lawsuit against the Russian Federation. The positions of Ukraine and the Russian Federation were published on the website of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in June 2019.

In November 2019, the International Court of Justice of the United Nations recognized its jurisdiction in the case of Ukraine against the Russian Federation on Russia’s violation of two conventions – on the fight against the financing of terrorism and on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination. Thus, the court ruled in favor of Ukraine, and now it can proceed to the examination of the case on the merits.

In addition, in May 2019, the UN International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, located in Hamburg, made a decision obliging the Russian Federation to release three Ukrainian ships – the tugboat Yany Kapu and two boats Berdiansk and Nikopol, and 24 Ukrainian sailors, captured by it in the Kerch Strait region in November 2018.

PCA is an international arbitration court established in 1899 to resolve international disputes. It is located in The Hague (the Netherlands). Some 122 states are members of the court.