Ukraine issued an appeal to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), asking Russia’s release of three detained Ukrainian navy vessels and the twenty four crewmembers that were onboard.
Mainly, the tension between Russia and Ukraine was caused when the twenty four sailors and their boats were arrested on November 26, which occurred after the three vessels attempted to enter the Sea of Azov via the Kerch Strait. The vessels were headed to the Ukrainian Port of Mariupol on the Sea of Azov.
After the incident, Ukraine submitted the request to ITLOS on April 16.
Ukraine asked the Tribunal to preserve the respective rights of the parties to the dispute or to prevent serious harm to the marine environment.
By this action, Ukraine asks the Russian Federation to set free the Ukrainian vessels – the Berdyansk, the Nikopol, and the Yani Kapu – and stop the criminal proceedings against the detained Ukrainian seafarers.
In the meantime, Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko commented in a social media post that
For the Russian Federation it is a political game and blackmail, and for us it is a struggle for the fate of our citizens and respect for the requirements of international law.
Moreover, the Ukrainian Ministry awaits for the hearing to be scheduled within the next several weeks, with a decision following soon.
In light of the incident, the US in cooperation with Canada and the EU, sanctioned six Russian companies in response to Russia’s ‘unjustified’ military actions.
In addition, the sanctions target individuals and entities playing a role in the illegal annexation of Crimea, and backing of illegitimate separatist government elections in eastern Ukraine, according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
In its appeal, Ukraine alleged a violation, by the Russian Federation, of the sovereign immunity accorded to warships, naval auxiliary vessels, and their passengers and crew under Articles 32, 58, 95, and 96 of the Convention and customary international law.