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Global tribunal tells Moscow to free Ukrainian sailors

AFP
Berlin
An international tribunal on Saturday urged Russia to release “immediately” 24 Ukrainian sailors seized last November off the Crimea peninsula.
“The Russian Federation must proceed immediately to release the Ukrainian soldiers and allow them to return to the Ukraine,” said Judge Jin-Hyun Paik at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, which is located in the German port city of Hamburg.
The tribunal judges additionally ruled Russia should “immediately” return the three Ukrainian navy vessels Berdyansk, Yani Kapu and Nikopol it seized in the Kerch Strait off Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014.
Ukraine took the matter to the tribunal last month -- but Russia does not recognise its jurisdiction to rule in the affair and did not send representatives to the hearing. “The continued denial of freedom to the Ukrainian sailors is worrying from a humanitarian point of view,” said Paik, heading a tribunal tasked with overseeing maritime disputes since 1982 and which 168 states recognise, Russia included. The tribunal ruling is a clear signal to Russia that it cannot violate international law with impunity,” Ukraine’s vice minister for foreign affairs Olena Zerkal said on her Facebook page after the judgement.
New Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote on Facebook that if Russia complies with the tribunal’s demand to release the sailors then that “could be the first signal from the Russian leadership about real readiness to end the conflict with Ukraine.”

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