Appeal from civic organizations regarding detention of 23 Ukrainian militaries during the arbitrary blocking of the access to the Sea of Azov by the Russian Federation

On Sunday, 25 November 2018 the ship of the Federal Border Guard Service of FSS of the Russian Federation rammed the Ukrainian tugboat “Yany Kapu” tougher with a small gunboats “Berdyansk” and “Nikopol” during their scheduled passage from the Odessa seaport to the Mariupol seaport in accordance with all exciting multilateral and bilateral international treaties and rules of navigation.

Later, according to the press-center of the Ukrainian Naval Forces  of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the gunboats of the Federal Border Guard Service of FSS of the Russian Federation opened fire on the vessels of the Ukrainian Naval Forces  of the Armed Forces of Ukraine as soon as the vessels left the Kerch Straight for the Black Sea back to Odessa. Six militaries were injured and 23 ones were captured in the attack. Three vessels were forcibly towed to the temporarily occupied Kerch town of Autonomy Republic of Crimea. Contacts with them are lost.

Later, the FSS of the Russian Federation confirmed the use of firearms and reported on provision of medical aid to three militaries of the Ukrainian Naval Forces  of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. In addition, the FSS announced about the criminal prosecution in case of violation of the state borders of Russian Federation in view of the fact, they consider that the Ukrainian vessels “illegally” came into the temporarily closed waters of territorial sea of the Russian Federation.

We draw attention that the UN by its adopted documents supports the independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine and recognizes the sovereignty of Ukraine over Crimea and the Black and Azov Seas, occupied by the Russian Federation.

We emphasize, that free access of Ukraine to the Black and Azov Seas as well as the Kerch Straight is guaranteed by the international law, particularly by the Rome Statue, UN Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 and Agreement between the Russian Federation and the Ukraine on cooperation in the use of the sea of Azov and the strait of Kerch. And that’s why it cannot be arbitrary blocked by the Russian Federation as it has already happened in the Baltic Sea against the Baltic countries and Poland in the Visla Bay.

We consider such actions as a signal for the escalation of the existing aggression of the RF against Ukraine and the growth of danger in the Sea of Azov has reached the critical leveof the conflict in Europe.

We call upon the members UN Security Council at the extraordinary meeting on 26 November 2018 to demand from the Russian Federation to stop the armed aggression against Ukraine, to liberate all detained militaries of the Ukrainian Naval Forces  of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, to recognize their status as prisoners-of-war in accordance with the international humanitarian law and to close all criminal proceedings against them as contrary to the international law.

We also call upon the members UN Security Council to demand from the Russian Federation to provide the complete information regarding the condition of health of the detained militaries of the Ukrainian Naval Forces  of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, medical assistance, received by the injured militaries, to allow the official representatives of Ukraine and international non-governmental organizations to visit them and to return the captured military vessels to Ukraine and to cover the losses.