The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has called on the Russian Federation to provide captive Ukrainian sailors with the necessary medical and legal assistance as per the 1949 Geneva Conventions.
"The Assembly urges the Russian Federation to immediately release the Ukrainian servicemen and ensure they are granted the necessary medical, legal and/or consular assistance in accordance with relevant provisions of international humanitarian law such as the Geneva Conventions," reads the respective PACE resolution, titled "The escalation of tensions around the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait and threats to European security" and passed on January 24.
The resolution was backed by 103 PACE delegates, three voted against, 16 abstained.
Russia captured 24 Ukrainian sailors near the Kerch Strait in the Black Sea on November 25, 2018.
The PACEL also "calls on the international bodies which have competence in the field, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), to visit the Ukrainian servicemen in prison, pending their release, and supports any diplomatic action taken by member States aimed at their release."
What is more, referring to the Treaty between the Russian Federation and Ukraine on Cooperation in the Use of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait, signed in December 2003 and ratified by both countries in April 2004, the Assembly notes that, according to Article 2.1 of the Treaty, the free passage of merchant vessels and warships of both the Russian Federation and Ukraine in the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait, which are shared territorial waters, must be respected and freedom of passage ensured.
"The Assembly condemns the use of military force by the Russian Federation against Ukrainian warships and their crews," the resolution said.
It also called on Russia and Ukraine to refrain from any further steps which might aggravate the legal disputes between Ukraine and the Russian Federation, escalate the conflict and threaten security in the wider region.
For its part, the Assembly reiterates its commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders and recalls in this respect Resolution 1990 (2014) on the reconsideration on substantive grounds of the previously ratified credentials of the Russian delegation, Resolution 2034 (2015) on the challenge, on substantive grounds, of the still unratified credentials of the delegation of the Russian Federation, Resolution 2063 (2015) on the consideration of the annulment of the previously ratified credentials of the delegation of the Russian Federation (follow-up to paragraph 16 of Resolution 2034 (2015)) and Resolution 2132 (2016) on the political consequences of the Russian aggression in Ukraine.
PACE delegates also expressed "great concern about the construction by Russia of the bridge over the Kerch Strait, which it considers illegal and another breach of Ukraine's sovereignty, as well as about Russia's policy regarding the selective search of Ukrainian and international ships, which hinder navigation to and from the Sea of Azov."