The United Nations International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) ruled on Saturday, May 25, that the Russian Federation should release the three Ukrainian vessels and 24 Ukrainian sailors it captured near the Kerch Strait in November 2018, the CFTS portal reports, citing the Interfax Ukraine news agency.
The relevant decision, which the tribunal made after considering Ukraine’s request for provisional measures, was announced by Judge Jin-Hyun Paik.
“The Russian Federation shall immediately release the Ukrainian naval vessels Berdyansk, Nikopol, and Yani Kapu and return them to the custody of Ukraine,” the tribunal ruling states.
Nineteen judges voted in favor of this this decision and only one judge – Ruslan Kolodkin (Russia) – voted against it.
By a similar vote, the tribunal decided that Russia "shall immediately release the 24 detained Ukrainian servicemen and allow them to return to Ukraine."
As reported earlier, Russian security officials seized the Ukrainian gunboats Berdyansk and Nikopol and the Yani Kapu tugboat near the Kerch Strait in the Black Sea on November 25, 2018. Twenty-four Ukrainian Navy servicemen were on board the Ukrainian vessels. The Security Service of Russia (FSB) accused the Ukrainian sailors of performing "dangerous maneuvers" while entering Russian territorial waters. Ukraine rejected these accusations, arguing that the Ukrainian sailors acted within the law and that Russia attacked and captured Ukrainian its naval vessels in international waters in the Black Sea.