Head of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Ruslan Khomchak accused President of Russia Vladimir Putin of lies due to the statement about the capture of the Ukrainian sailors in Kerch Strait in November 2018 as Armia-Inform reported.
“It was only propaganda and manipulation statement. Lie, to put it simple. Putin once more confirmed his reputation of a great manipulator. The owner of Kremlin tried to explain the situation in his favor, distorting the reality. It is one more confirmation that the war continues at all front lines with the use of different methods, including cynical manipulations. There were a lot of examples of the misrepresentation to the international society during the years of the Russian aggression,” Khomchak said.
During the press conference in Japan, Putin, when he tried to justify the aggressive and illegal actions of the Russian law enforcers in Kerch Strait, cited Khomchak, who stated in one interview that the conflict was provoked by the Ukrainian side.
Besides, Putin stated that the situation concerning the imprisoned Ukrainian sailors is in no way connected with the return of the Russian delegation to PACE.
As it was reported earlier, on May 25, the Hamburg-based International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) ordered Russia to release and repatriate to Ukraine all 24 sailors and three naval vessels, seized through military force off Crimea’s coast exactly six months earlier (see EDM, November 26, 2018), in the “Kerch incident” with world-wide reverberations. The ITLOS decision (Itlos.org, May 25, 2019) represents a significant success for Ukraine and for international law. But it is only an initial step in a litigation that Russia has the power to drag out indefinitely or (less likely) to block outright.
Russia does not recognize any jurisdiction other than its own in the Kerch Strait, nor in nearby areas of the Black Sea that are legally Ukrainian but taken over by Russia following its seizure of Crimea. In a show of defiance, the Moscow City Court promptly ruled to prolong the detention of the 24 Ukrainian sailors by another two months, pending further investigation and trial (TASS, May 27), although ITLOS had prescribed that the trial be suspended and the sailors allowed to return to Ukraine “immediately.” The sailors are charged, under Russia’s criminal code, with aggravated illegal crossing of Russia’s maritime state border, although no country but Russia recognizes such a border.