Putin's spox unable to clarify why Russia attacked Ukrainian naval boats in neutral waters

14:40, 29 November 2018
Politics
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REUTERS

Responding to an UNIAN correspondent's question at a Moscow press conference on Thursday on why Russian coast guards fired on the Ukrainian naval boats as the latter were in neutral waters, Putin's spokesman noted: “Here I can’t say for sure, we need to address coast guards with all questions regarding geographic coordinates.”

“They [Ukrainian boats] were not attacked. Measures were taken to apprehend violators - warships who were violators of the state border of the Russian Federation,” added Peskov.

The UNIAN reporter asked another clarifying question on why, instead of firing on Ukrainian boats as they were just entering the area Moscow calls its territorial waters, Russians reportedly offered Ukrainian crews a pilot to assist in passing through the Kerch Strait. After all, the Ukrainian naval group came under attack as they were heading back toward Odesa.

To this question, Peskov responded: "Remember, the president [of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin] noted that all actions were being carried out in complete radio silence mode."

According to him, the developments near the Kerch Strait of Nov 25 were reported in detail by Russian coast guards.

mtot.gov.ua

As UNIAN reported earlier, on the morning of November 25, Russia blocked the passage to the Kerch Strait for the Ukrainian tug boat Yany Kapu and two armored naval boats Berdyansk and Nikopol, which were on aa scheduled re-deployment from the Black Sea port of Odesa to the Azov Sea port of Mariupol.

The Ukraine Navy Command noted that the Russian side had been informed in advance of the intention to re-deploy the vessels in accordance with international standards to ensure the safety of navigation.

The Russian coast guard ship "Don" rammed the Ukrainian tug, damaging the Ukrainian vessel. As the Ukrainian boats were heading back in the Odesa direction after being rejected passage via the Kerch Strait, Russian coast guards opened aimed fire on them.

Read alsoUkraine intercepts radio comms of Russian coast guards with Command amid attack on Ukraine Navy boats (Transcript)

All 24 crew on board were captured and later remanded in custody for two months, charged with "illegal border crossing." Three sailors were injured in the attack.

As UNIAN reported earlier, citing an official position of the Ukrainian Infrastructure Ministry, Russia attacked and seized Ukrainian navy boats in the international waters of the Black Sea, outside the line of the state border of Ukraine at sea, which is temporarily beyond Ukraine's control as a result of the occupation of Crimea, the Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine says.

Read alsoFiring to kill: Photo shows aftermath of Russian warship's attack on Ukrainian Navy boat

According to Art. 95 of the Convention on the Law of the Sea, warships on the high seas have complete immunity from the jurisdiction of any State other than the flag State, the Ukrainian infrastructure ministry recalls.

"According to the definition contained in UN General Assembly resolution 3314 of 14 December 1974, an attack by the armed forces of one state on the naval forces or navy of another state is an aggression," the ministry said.

"We emphasize that all detained Ukrainian servicemen are protected by the norms of international humanitarian law, in particular the Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, 1949," read the ministry's report.

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