Claims presented by Ukraine to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea concerning the country’s rights to the Kerch strait are completely inappropriate. Questions of sovereignty over the Crimea as an integral part of the Russian Federation and the adjacent maritime zone, in principle, can not be the subject of any legal proceedings.
The disinformation message is a response to the hearing on May 10 at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea of Ukraine’s case concerning last year’s detention by the Russian Federation of three Ukrainian naval vessels and their crews. Russia declined to participate in the hearings claiming that the International Tribunal does not have the jurisdiction to hear this case.
According to international law, Ukraine has a right to use the Black and Azov Seas. The illegal annexation of Crimea does not deprive Ukraine of the right to navigate in its internal waters.
In 2012, Ukraine and Russia concluded an additional agreement ensuring safe navigation in the Azov Sea and the Kerch Strait.
Article 44 of the UN International Convention on the Law of the Sea states that bordering states are not allowed to hinder international shipping in the strait.
Both Russia and Ukraine are party to several treaties, laws and regulations that guarantee the free use of those seas by both countries. In December 2003, Ukraine and Russia signed an agreement on cooperation on using the Azov Sea and the Kerch Strait. The agreement states that any vessel, including warships, can freely move through the waters of the strait and the surrounding area.