The Ukrainian sailors were captured by Russia in November 2014 / Photo from UNIAN

Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that Russia's extension of 24 Ukrainian sailors' custody further aggravates the dispute between the two countries.

"Today's order by the Lefortovo court compounds and extends Russia's violations of international law, and further aggravates the dispute between Russia and Ukraine," the ministry said in a statement on July 17.

The ministry resolutely protests against the decision of the Moscow court to extend the unlawful detentions of the Ukrainian sailors, who were seized by the Russian Federation in the Black Sea on November 25, 2018. The detentions were extended through October 24, 2019.

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"Russia's detention of Ukraine's servicemen, and the three naval vessels that carried them, constitutes a serious and ongoing violation of the sovereign immunity enjoyed by both the vessels and the servicemen under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and general international law," the ministry said.

On May 25, 2019, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ("ITLOS") ordered the immediate and unconditional release of the three Ukrainian naval vessels and the twenty-four servicemen onboard. Russia's failure to immediately release the vessels and the servicemen constitutes "a brazen violation of this order," it said.

As recognized in the May 25 order of the ITLOS, "the continued deprivation of liberty and freedom of Ukraine's servicemen" interferes with Ukraine's sovereignty and its international legal rights, and also raises urgent humanitarian concerns.

"Ukraine commends its international partners for their solidarity with Ukraine in its struggle for the release of the Ukrainian servicemen and naval vessels," the ministry said.

As UNIAN reported, today, Moscow's Lefortovo District Court on July 17 extended the term of detention of all 24 Ukrainian sailors.