The Hamburg-based United Nation’s International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) has ordered Russian authorities to free 24 Ukranian sailors in its custody.
The tribunal said Russia’s continued detention of the sailors is capable of causing serious harm to the dignity and sovereignty of Ukraine.
“The Tribunal notes that any action affecting the immunity of warships is capable of causing serious harm to the dignity and sovereignty of a state and has the potential to undermine its national security,” ITLOS President Jin-Hyun Paik said.
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Paik also said: “The tribunal considers it appropriate to order both parties to refrain from taking any action which might aggravate or extend the dispute.”
However, the tribunal “does not consider it necessary to require [Russia] to suspend criminal proceedings against the 24 detained Ukrainian servicemen and refrain from initiating new proceedings,” he added. Kiev had called for legal proceedings to be ended.
The Russian navy captured the Ukrainian sailors and their vessels in the Kerch Strait, which links the Black and Azov seas, on November 25, 2018, after opening fire on them.