Skip to comments.Russian attack on Ukrainian ships: who has a right to do what in the Azov Sea
Posted on 11/30/2018 11:09:48 AM PST by UMCRevMom@aol.com
Russia is preparing to put 24 Ukrainian sailors on trial after attacking and seizing their three Navy vessels near the Kerch Strait on 25 November. The vessels were heading to the Ukrainian port of Mariupol in a bid to strengthen the Ukrainian military presence in the Azov Sea, in response to Russia's ongoing blockade in the area. The Ukrainian National Defense and Security Council recognized the Russian attack as an act of unprovoked aggression and Ukraine has imposed a state of martial law in nearly half of the country in response. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has called the whole incident a Ukrainian "provocation" and the FSB is claiming Ukraine trespassed on Russias territorial waters.
We dug into the intricacies of maritime law to see whether Russia's accusations have any ground.
According to the Ukrainian Navy, on 25 November, the tugboat Yany Kapu and two artillery armored boats Berdiansk and Nikopol, were headed from Odesa to Mariupol. They notified the coastal post of the Russian border guards service and the seaports of Kerch and Kavkaz of the intended passage via the Kerch Strait, but were not answered. Then, the Russian border guard ship Don rammed into Yany Kapu and damaged its engine and hull. As the Ukrainian ships approached the Kerch Bridge, Russia blocked the passage with a cargo vessel, however moving it aside to let its own ships pass. Additionally, Russia deployed several more seacrafts, as well as K-52 combat helicopters, and even Su-25 fighter jets in the Kerch Bridge area.
After the blockage, Ukrainian ships headed back to Odesa, but shortly after they crossed the 12-nautical-mile baseline and reached neutral waters, the Russian ships opened fire on Ukrainian seacrafts wounding at least one sailor, reported the Ukrainian Navy as of 20:33. Yany Kapu and Berdiansk lost engines and were seized by Russian special forces. The third seacraft, Nikopol, was surrounded by Russian ships and forced to follow their course.
[Read more: Russian attack on Ukrainian ships near Kerch Strait full chronology]
According to Russia, the group of three Ukrainian military ships (two cutters and a tugboat) heading to the newly established naval base in Berdiansk did not ask permission to enter the Kerch Strait. A document published by the FSB claims that the Marine administration of the Kerch port had to be informed 48 and 24 hours prior to passage and receive confirmation 4 hours prior to passage, claiming that the Ukrainian ships had not done that. It says nothing of the Russian border service ship Don ramming through the Ukrainian tugboat Yany Kapu, despite a video of the episode being published by Russian sailors. It also makes no mention of the lethal fire of the Russians, speaking only of warning fire and three wounded.
Russia claims that these measures were needed because "the artillery installations were uncovered, raised at 45 degrees, and directed towards the ships and boats of the Russian Federation." However, the photographs published by the FSB don't show the two artillery cutters, depicting only the tugboat which usually doesnt carry artillery. Belarusian journalist Franak Viačorka noted in twitter that the artillery marks on the ship Berdiansk show that Russians were aiming at the crew and not the engines.
THUS, RUSSIA IS CLAIMING THAT:
the Ukrainian ships needed to inform the Kerch Marine administration 48 and 24 hours prior to and get permission 4 hours prior to passage through the Kerch Strait; Russia had a right to close the Kerch Strait for the Ukrainian ships and the Ukrainian ships violated P.3 Art.25 of the 1982 UN Convention on Maritime Law and P.2 Art.12 of the 1998 Russian law #155-FZ "On the internal sea waters, territorial waters and the adjacent zone of the Russian Federation" when they entered Russia's territorial waters at 44°52'N 36°31'E at 7:10; the Ukrainian ships violated the 1982 UN Convention on Maritime Law and the 1998 Russian law #155-FZ "On the internal sea waters, territorial waters and the adjacent zone of the Russian Federation" when they didn't obey the Russian border guards' orders to stop, which is why the Russian ships shot at the Ukrainian ships according to pp24,25 of the Russian state decree #80 "On Approval of the Rules for the Use of Weapons and Military Equipment while Protecting the State Border of the Russian Federation and the Exclusive Economic Zone and the continental shelf of the Russian Federation" (2010).
HOW DOES THAT STAND UP YO SCRUTINY?
Click to enlarge. The open sources coordinates of the attacks are taken from: A- coordinates of two incidents when the Russian border guard ship Don collided with the Ukrainian tugboat Yany Kapu voiced in an intercepted call between the Russian military leadership and Russian border guards; B a distress call sent by Berdiansk. The FSB version of events coordinates are taken from the FSB communique regarding the events of 25 November
The territorial waters of a state, or the 12-mile (22.224 km) strip of water adjacent to its coast, are considered sovereign territory of the state, although foreign ships (military and civilian) are allowed innocent passage through it, or transit passage for straits, according to Art.17 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
P.1 Art.36 of the UN Convention outlines that "in straits referred to in article 37 [used for international navigation], all ships and aircraft enjoy the right of transit passage, which shall not be impeded."
After Russia illegally annexed Crimea in 2014, it decided to annex the waters as well and now considers the 12-mile strip around the Ukrainian peninsula its state border, claiming that the Azov Sea is its internal sea. This is why the Russian ships demanded Ukraine get permission to pass through the Kerch Strait. In its explanation of the incident on 25 November, the FSB cited the "#313 order of the Ministry of Transport of Russia" as the document which obliges Ukraine to receive a permit to enter the Kerch Strait.
That order constitutes two violations of international law.
According to the 1982 UN Convention, all vessels have the right of movement through international straits. Additionally, they have the right of innocent passage through the territorial waters of a state. Russia is a signatory to the Convention since 1997. Russia is a signatory to the 2003 Ukraine-Russia agreement on collaboration in using the Azov Sea and Kerch Strait which defines the Azov Sea as internal waters of both Russia and Ukraine.
2003 UKRAINE-RUSSIAN AGREEMENT: freedom of navigation
The Ukraine-Russia agreement on collaboration in using the Azov Sea and Kerch Strait signed by Russia and Ukraine in 2003 is the base document regulating the two countries' usage of the Azov Sea. According to it, the Azov Sea is historically the internal waters of Ukraine and Russia. Accordingly, all trade and military ships, as well as other state ships under Ukrainian or Russian flags used in non-commercial goals, have the freedom of navigation in the Azov Sea and Kerch Strait.
Freedom of navigation means that Ukrainian military ships are allowed to freely pass through the Kerch Strait at any time if they comply with safety measures. Thus, Ukraine should have been allowed innocent passage through any Russian territorial waters whatsoever in order to get to any international strait, not even mentioning the Kerch Strait, which has a separate law governing Russias and Ukraine's actions. Moreover, speaking in terms of international law, the territorial waters around Crimea belong to Ukraine.
Russia still recognizes the agreement as valid. Therefore, Russia's complaints about Ukraine "violating its territorial waters" are completely bogus.
So are its claims that Ukraine should have applied for a permit 48 prior to passing through the Strait. The FSB description of events mentions that Ukraine had at 5:35 informed the technical observation post at cape Takil that it plans to pass through the Kerch Strait and that is precisely what Ukraine was supposed to do under its right to free navigation.
CAN RUSSIA CLOSE DOWN THE KERCH STRAIT?
Russia claims it had a right to close the Kerch Strait for the Ukrainian ships and the Ukrainian ships violated P.3 Art.25 of the 1982 UN Convention on Maritime Law and P.2 Art.12 of the 1998 Russian law #155-FZ "On the internal sea waters, territorial waters and the adjacent zone of the Russian Federation" when they entered Russia's territorial waters at 44°52'N 36°31'E at 7:10, the FSB claimed.
First of all, that location (triangle 2 on the map above) is located outside of the territorial waters of both Russia and occupied Crimea.
Second, the mentioned legal acts state that "the coastal State may, without discrimination in form or in fact among foreign ships, suspend temporarily in specified areas of its territorial sea the innocent passage of foreign ships if such suspension is essential for the protection of its security, including weapons exercises. Such suspension shall take effect only after having been duly published."
There was no duly published suspension. There were no weapons exercises. And there was no known threat to Russia's security. There was only, as the FSB admitted itself, an arbitrary prohibition of the Russian border guard ships at 5:45 Moscow time. Russia did not have any right to arbitrarily stop the Ukrainian ships.
CAN RUSSIA FIRE ON UKRAINIAN SHIPS?
The FSB cited pp24,25 of the Russian state decree #80 "On Approval of the Rules for the Use of Weapons and Military Equipment while Protecting the State Border of the Russian Federation and the Exclusive Economic Zone and the continental shelf of the Russian Federation" (2010) as the legal grounds on which Russia shot at the Ukrainian ships.
The decree #80 states that weapons can be used against vessels violating rules of crossing the Russian state border and rules of conduct established by Russian law and international agreements.
Ukraine has freedom of navigation in the Azov Sea and Kerch Strait. It was acting in accordance with all existing international treaties.
On the contrary, in the FSB's own description, Russia had arbitrarily attempted to stop Ukraine from exercising the rights it has under those treaties. And attempting to do so, engaged in an act of aggression, ramming into the Ukrainian tugboat in the morning before the Ukrainian fleet approached the Kerch Strait (Red asterisk A on the map).
And in the end, contrary to its own claims, used lethal force against Ukrainian Navy ships outside of its own territorial waters, and outside of the territorial waters of the Crimean peninsula it had occupied (asterisk B on the map).
Russian attack on Ukrainian ships near Kerch Strait full chronology Russia takes 24 prisoners of war after attacking Ukrainian ships in Azov, televises confessions Martial law to be imposed in nearly half of Ukraine. Here is what will change Russia attacks Ukrainian ships near Kerch strait video, audio intercepts]
When Russia announced that they were going to build a causeway and bridge across the strait, before they even broke ground, Ukraine swore they'd blow up portions of it. Given that fact, Russia didn't change any rules, they just put a couple of small ships in the area to patrol both sides of the causeway. They also instituted patrols that travel back and forth across the bridge looking for small boats and divers in the waters around the causeway.
The three ships that were stopped are the first ones from Ukraine that didn't obey the rules. Given the fact that a very small lighter carrying supplies to a Burke class destroyer blew the destroyer nearly in half, any country concerned about attacks on a ship, bridge, or causeway, would have done the same thing Russia did which is stop any vessel that has not followed the rules and refused to halt or even respond to radio inquires from the Russian patrol vessels.
Be careful about your double standards.
President Trump announced he is nixing a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Argentina on Saturday, in the wake of the seizure of Ukrainian ships and crews in the Black Sea by Russia.
Based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia, I have decided it would be best for all parties concerned to cancel my previously scheduled meeting in Argentina with President Vladimir Putin, he tweeted Thursday.
I look forward to a meaningful Summit again as soon as this situation is resolved! he added.
Trump had told The Washington Post Tuesday that he may not meet with Putin in Buenos Aires after Russian forces fired on Ukrainian naval vessels and seized their crews as they were sailing through the Kerch Strait, near Crimea.
I am getting a report on that tonight and that will determine what happens at the meeting, Trump said. Im getting a full report on that tonight. That will be very determinative. Maybe I wont have the meeting. Maybe I wont even have the meeting. Were going to see, depending on what comes out tonight.
He later told the Post that I dont like that aggression.
It’s rare when facts matter in conflicts of passion.
Those who passionately hate Russia will see nothing but the Ukrainian claims of innocence and Russian belligerence.
The history of Ukrainian pledges to blow up the bridge will not be considered, nor will the break from established protocol by Ukraine give them pause.
When Donald Trump and I observe that, as Ive said, in Syria, in Iran, in Ukraine, that the small and bullying leader of Russia has been stronger on the world stage than this administration, thats stating painful facts. Thats not an endorsement of Vladimir Putin thats an indictment of the weak and feckless leadership of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
"What were dealing with is the you know, theres an old proverb that says the Russian bear never dies, it just hibernates.
And the truth of the matter is, the weak and feckless foreign policy of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama has awakened an aggression in Russia that first appeared a few years ago with their move in Georgia, now their move into Crimea, now their move into the wider Middle East.
It's interesting to keep track of the people who swear they're Conservatives and/or Trump supporters but who are in lock step with everything the Obama/Hillary machine says when it comes to anything international.
Break up Syria, keep Hillary's promise to bomb Iran, start as large a war as possible in Ukraine, they're all on board with every bit of it. BUT. Oh no, they're really good Conservatives, in spite of going from crying for Ukraine Tartars who went to ISIS in Syria and Afghanistan in droves to insisting Ukraine has the right to unimpeded access to a structure they've vowed to blow up.
It's also interesting how they seem to disappear whenever Ukraine is short of cash and show back up every time Ukraine ties off and shoots up another another cash fix from the US or EU.
You’ve convinced me. Putin does not control the Crimea and his troops are not in Donetsk (or would you prefer Stalino?) and Luhansk).
Euromaidan is the Deep State regime change op. Whatever they claim, the opposite is most likely to be true.
It’s interesting to keep track of the people who swear they’re Conservatives and/or Trump supporters but who are in lock step with everything the Obama/Hillary machine says when it comes to anything international.
On the contrary. It was the Obama admin that was in lock step with Putinist Russia and its western sycophants.
Obama was silent as the latest model Russian Army heavy tanks paraded through Donbas. Without Obama’s willful blindness Putin’s hybrid war invasion of Ukraine would never have been possible.
The same people who have subverted and taken over all the agencies in DC that worked hand in glove with Obama and Hillary to defeat Trump are as pure as the wind driven snow, that's why you agree with their BS. Right?
LOL, you're funny.
Have a nice day
How often did your parents tell you you were dumber than a bag of hammers, daily or weekly?
What do you have in mind sending?
We don’t have sailing rights in the sea of Azov. It’s an internal water. By the same token, Russian warships don’t have any right to sail in the Great Lakes.
BS??? There was video evidence from pro Russian “journalists” of the latest Russian Army tanks inside Ukraine conducting combat operations. The tanks were borrowed from the Russian Army by the “farmers and miners” of Donetsk? I doubt it.
It’s all moot about the Azov. After Macron insulted POTUS at the WW1 commemorations and Merkel ranted again about an EU Army I suspect Trump has little interest in European issues at the moment. Merkel has also been stonewalling on NATO reform. The EU is basically an appendage of the Democrat Party at this point. Good riddance.
What’s the problem with that? When you have a coup and gain control of the capital city that only gives you control of what your weapons can reach. Everybody else and the country has the same right to take control of any area they want the same as the coup did. If a pussy hat / BLM / Antifa mob grabs DC, do you think that makes them the new government of America? And Texas is required to fall into line?
So obviously it was daily, just like I suspected.
You're probably posting elsewhere about the danger of Guam tipping over, too, right?
Crooked oligarch Poroshenko will be gone in a couple of months and the Ukraine will have a new leader. I for one am looking forward to rapprochement with Russia in the spring.
Saith Bully Putin. But the Sea can't be internal water just of Russia when much of it borders part of what, even Putin admits, is still part of the the Ukraine. International law says the Kerch Strait is a strait and navigation through it must be permitted. So send through a ship named for a Nobel Peace Laureate, laden with media who thinks that prize was deserved, and backed by the real politic strength of a President who knows better. Would Putin arrest the CNN embeds? Would he sink a scow named for Obama? He understands PR to well to do either.
And if Putin wants to sail up Niagara falls he's free to try it, but should be aware our environmentalist lawyers will quick to sue him for any damages done to them. And the locks around the falls are clearly not natural straits.
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