Arbitration on detention of Ukrainian Naval vessels and servicemen by Russia starts in The Hague.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration, established in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, will hold a hearing concerning the arbitration instituted by Ukraine against the Russian Federation in respect of a “Dispute Concerning the Detention of Ukrainian Naval Vessels and Servicemen” in the Kerch Strait in November 2018.

As an Ukrinform correspondent reports, on Monday, October 11, 2021, the Russian Federation will deliver its first round of oral arguments. On Tuesday, October 12, 2021, Ukraine will deliver its first round of oral arguments.

The opening statement made by each Party’s Agent in the first round of oral pleadings will be webcast on the internet via live-streaming.

The second round of oral arguments will be delivered on October 14 and 15.

If required, a further session of the hearing will be conducted on October 16, 2021.

The hearing will be held at the Peace Palace, The Hague, in the Netherlands, in a hybrid format, with some of the members of the Parties’ delegations and some of the members of the Arbitral Tribunal joining in person and others by videoconference.

The hearing concerns the Russian Federation’s preliminary objections.

On November 25, 2018, off the coast of the occupied Crimea, Russian border guards fired on and seized three Ukrainian warships and detained 24 sailors. The servicemen were accused of illegally crossing the Russian border (the punishment under this article is up to six years in prison). Ukraine considers the incident a violation of the immunity of warships.

On May 25, 2019, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ordered Russia to immediately release all sailors and allow them to return to Ukraine, as well as to return the ships.

On September 7, a 35-to-35 prisoner swap took place between Ukraine and Russia, during which, in particular, 24 captured sailors were released.

On November 18, 2019, the Russian Federation handed over "Berdyansk" and "Nikopol" ships and "Yani Kapu" tugboat to Ukraine in the Black Sea waters. On November 20, they arrived in the port of Ochakiv.

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