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Ukraine asks ITLOS to oblige Russia to return captured Ukrainian sailors and vessels

The damage done to Ukraine and the Ukrainian Navy is considerable, and it grows every day as the seamen remain in detention
13:30, 10 May 2019

Olena Zerkal at ITLOS hearing, May 2019
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The Ukrainian delegation at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea urged the authority to oblige Russia to return the captured Ukrainian sailors and vessels. Olena Zerkal, Ukraine's envoy at the ITLOS and the spokeswoman of the Foreign Ministry said that during her speech before the Tribunal in Hamburg May 10.

The full text is available on Zerkal's Facebook.

'Today, Ukraine asks the Tribunal to assign the temporary measures, which demand that Russia immediately release the naval military vessels of Ukraine and their crew members, and return them to Ukraine', Zerkal said. 

Related: Hamburg hosts ITLOS session on captured Ukrainian sailors

She admitted that every day of detention, every new investigation action or interrogation, any further court hearing only sharpen the dispute between the sides. 

'This Tribunal has previously marked that a warship is a manifestation of the sovereignty of its flag state. It also recognized that every next day of detention of a military vessel leads to material and irrecoverable damage to the legal and practical interests of the flag state', the official added.

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea hosted the hearing on this case as scheduled, on May 10. The Ukrainian delegation also includes lawyer Nikolai Polozov and Ukraine's Deputy Navy Commander and the Navy HQ Chief Andriy Tarasov; Russia refused to participate. 

Related: Hearing on captured sailors in ITLOS to take no more than three hours, - Ukraine's MFA

In November 2018, the coast guard ships of the Russian Navy attacked the ships of the Ukrainian Navy, which have been carrying out a scheduled transition from Odesa port to Mariupol port in the Sea of Azov. Ukrainian ships were rejected passage via the Kerch Strait, Russian coast guards opened aimed fire on them.

All 24 sailors on board were captured and delivered to Moscow – 21 of them were delivered to Lefortovo remand center, the rest came to the hospital of Matrosskaya Tishina prison.

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