Azov Sea, Kerch Strait: Evolution of Their Purported Legal Status (Part One)

Source : 112 Ukraine

The Jamestown Foundation commented on the recent incident in Kerch Strait
22:20, 4 December 2018

A ship blocks passage under the Crimean bridge over the Kerch Strait on Nov. 25
Associated Press

'Russia has perpetrated acts of war against Ukraine in the Kerch Strait and the adjacent portion of the Black Sea on November 25. Moreover, during the preceding months, Russia had systematically and aggressively obstructed Ukrainian and international shipping in the Sea of Azov', The Jamestown Foundation wrote in the article. Thus, the NGO commented on the recent incident in the Kerch Strait, when the Russian Navy attacked and captured the Ukrainian vessels.

'For its part, Russia has countered with arbitrary interpretations of the Azov Sea’s and Kerch Strait’s legal statuses—interpretations that Russia alone is presently able to impose through force in the theater. Western and Ukrainian confusion as well as Russian rejoinders stem from legal and pseudo-legal complexities injected by Russia into what passes for the legal status of the Azov Sea and Kerch Strait.

Whether a legal status of these two bodies of water exists, is questionable. To the extent to which it exists, it is murky. Moscow has shaped it this way because Russian policies thrive on exploiting legal vacuums covered by Russian-composed legal formulae, whereby Russia de facto holds sway', the outlet wrote.

'The purported legal status of these two bodies of water is codified in the “Treaty on Cooperation Between the Russian Federation and Ukraine on the Use of the Azov Sea and Kerch Strait,” signed in December 2003 and ratified by both parliaments in April 2004 (text in Diplomaticheskii Vestnik, no. 1, 2004).

The content of this treaty forms Russia’s legal basis for its recent use of force in the Azov Sea and Kerch Strait. However, Russia has been itself in breach of this and other treaties by seizing Crimea in 2014, a move that has unilaterally overturned the hitherto agreed-upon basis for the interpretation and application of the 2003 treaty', the article reads.

Read the full story here.

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