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Appeal by the Civil Society Organizations regarding an arbitrary blockade of Ukraine’s access to the Sea of Azov by the Russian Federation and the capture of 23 Ukrainian servicemen

On Sunday, November 25, 2018, a  ship of the Border Guard Service of the Russian Federation’s Federal Security Service rammed through a Ukrainian tugboat “Yany Kapu”. Along with two small artillery boats “Berdyansk” and “Nikopol”, it was executing a planned sail from Odesa to Mariupol, in compliance with provisions of all applicable multi- and bilateral international treaties and the navigation rules.  


Later the same day, as reported by the press center of the Naval Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine artillery boats of the Border Guard Service of the Russian Federation’s Federal Security Service opened fire to destroy a fleet of ships of the Naval Forces of Ukraine. At that moment the fleet has exited the Kerch Strait to the Black Sea and was returning to Odesa. As a result of the attack, six servicemen of the Naval Forces of Ukraine were injured and 23 were captured. All three ships were forcibly towed to the temporarily occupied town Kerch of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Ukraine lost contact with them.

Later, the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation confirmed the use of weapons and reported providing medical assistance to three servicemen of the Naval Forces of Ukraine. Additionally, the Federal Security Service announced opening a criminal case regarding an alleged violation of national borders of the Russian Federation. Their opinion is that the Ukrainian ships “unlawfully entered temporarily closed territorial waters of the Russian Federation”.

We would like to bring to your attention that a wide-ranging series of documents promulgated by the UN articulate its support for independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine, as well as acknowledge Ukraine’s sovereignty over the Russian Federation-occupied Crimea and its part of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

We emphasize that Ukraine has been guaranteed unhindered access to the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, as well the Kerch Strait under international law, particularly the Charter of the United Nations, the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and the 2003 Agreement between Ukraine and the Russian Federation on Cooperation in the Use of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait. The Russian Federation is not entitled to arbitrarily block such access, as it has previously done in the Baltic Sea Vistula Lagoon against the Baltic states and Poland.

We consider these actions a worrying sign of escalation in the ongoing military aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine. They demonstrate that the deteriorating security situation in the Sea of Azov had reached a dangerous conflict level within Europe.

We urge members of the UN Security Council to demand at its emergency meeting on November 26, 2018 that the Russian Federation immediately stop military aggression against Ukraine, release captured servicemen of the Naval Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, recognize their status as the prisoners of war according to international humanitarian law and close all criminal proceedings against them as those contradicting international law.

Also we call on the UN Security Council members to demand that the Russian Federation give detailed information regarding physical condition of captured servicemen of the Naval Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, medical assistance provided to the injured, grant access to them for official representatives of Ukraine and international non-governmental organizations, as well as restore Ukraine’s control over the captured vessels and compensate for the losses.

1. Center for Civil Liberties
2. Center for Globalism Studies “Strategy XXI”
3. Crimean-Tatar Resource Center
4. Civic Organization “Bakhmat”
5. Ukrainian Helsinki Union for human rights
6. Crimea SOS
7. Foundation “Euromaidan-Warszawa”
8. Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research
9. Media Initiative for human rights
10. Information center for human rights
11. Association of relatives of political prisoners of the Kremlin
12. CF Vostok-SOS (East-SOS)
13. Human rights civil research center
14. Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
15. Anticorruption Action Center
16. Centre of Policy and Legal Reform
17. NGO “European Movement of Ukraine”
18. Ukrainian institute for human rights
19. Movement “Freedom Space”
20. Civil Society Institute
21. Eastern Ukrainian Center for Civic Initiatives
22. Institute of Mass Information
23. Detector Media
24. Ukrainian Maritime Bar Association
25. Ukrainian Legal Advisory Group
26. Youth organization “STAN”
27. Center Еidos
28. Center of Public Activity «Result»
29. Open Society Foundation, NGO
30. NGO “MART”
31. NGO Centre UA
32. All-Ukrainian NGO “Union of Rural Women of Ukraine”
33. Union for Supporting Ukraine (Latvia)
34. World Movement of Patriots of Ukraine (Switzerland)
35. NGO “Black Sea Human Rights Union”
36. NGO Center of Reform Support
37. Charitable Organization “Medical Aid Committee in Zakarpattya”
38. Human rights Platform
39. Ukraine Action (France)
40. NGO “Association for protection of consumers’ rights”
41. NGO “Public holding “Group of Influence”
42. Ukrainian Leadership Academy
43. Civic Sector of Euromaidan
44. Anticorruprion Headquarters NGO
45. NGO Advocacy Center “Life”
46. NGO “Center for innovative education “Pro.Svit”
47. Open Dialogue Foundation
48. CF Right to Protection
49. Pražský Majdan, z.s. Чехія
50. Cherkasy human right center
51. NGO “Volunteer of Cherkashchyna”
52. Charity Fund “Peaceful Future of Ukraine”
53. NGO “Ukrainian Pirate Union”
54. NGO “Union Toloka”
55. Ukrainian Women Organization of Sweden
56. NGO “Our Podillia”
57. Independent think tank “Ukrainian Institute for the Future”
58. Kryvorizsky Center for Investigations
60. The Center for Research of the Liberation Movement
61. DEJURE Foundation
62. NGO “Media investigations center ”Prozoro”
63. NGO “Crimean House”
64. NGO “Young Cherkashchyna”
65. Luhansk regional human rights center “Alternatyva”
66. London EuroMaidan
67. NGO “Right for Freedom”
68. Poltava branch of the Public Service of Ukraine
69. NGO “Donbas SOS”
70. StateWatch NGO
71. NGO “Ukraine. Time to Unite”
72. NGO “Veterans of the War “Ukraine’s Defenders”
73. Together Against Corruption NGO
74. NGO ‘Truth Hounds’
75. NGO “Healthcare project center”
76. NGO “Euromaidan Press”
77. NGO “Center for public monitoring and research”
78. Coalition “Union of NGOs Cherkasy”
79. Charity Foundation “Nadiia”
80. NGO “Women Hundred of Kamyanets Podilsky”
81. Vatra – the Ukrainian Association in Sweden
82. New Europe Center
83. NGO “New Donbas”
84. Centre for Democracy and Rule of Law
85. Myrhorod town youth organization “We Are the Future”
86. Ukrainian Science Club
87. Institute for Social and Economic Transformation
88. Institute for Economic Research and Policy Consulting
89. Ternopil Human Rights Group
90. Civil Network OPORA
91. Center for Innovations Development
92. Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research
93. Ukrainian Insurance Federation
94. Crimean Human Rights Group
95. Charitable Foundation “Patients of Ukraine”
96. AutoMaidan All-Ukrainian Union
97. NGO “Blue Bird”
98. NGO “Novokakhovsky Union for Preserving Cultural Heritage”
99. All-Ukrainian youth organization “Youth of Democratic Alliance”
100. NGO Association of Political Sciences
101. NGO coalition “Expert Board”
102. NGO “Women’s Anticorruption Movement”
103. NGO Chuguev Human Rights Group
104. Free Russia Foundation
105. Charitable Foundation “Blagochestia Regional Fund”
106. NGO “Internews Ukraine”
107. CCC Creative Center (Ukraine)
108. NGO “Poltava platform”
109. NGO “Association of cyclists of Kyiv”
110. NGO “Ukrainian Patriotic Association “Volya”
111. Ukrainian Liaison Office In Brussels
112. Transparency International Ukraine
111. NGO “Center for public monitoring and analysis”
112. NGO “Youth Association” Fine City “
113. NGO “Ternopil Human Rights Protection Group”
114. NGO “Art Festival” Ї “
115. CF “Future of the Orphans”
116. State Enterprise “Expert-analytical group” Accent “
117. “Rada of Business of Ternopil”
118. TNK “AvtoMaydan” Ternopil branch
119. NGO “Ternopil Press Club”
120. NGO PLAST station Ternopil
121. NGO “Creative association” Nivroku “
122. NGO “Center for Regional Development and Law”
123. NGO “Center Yue”
124. NGO “Democratic Alliance of Ternopil Region”
125. NGO “The Union of Fighters and Volunteers of the ATO” The Force of Ukraine “
126. NGO “Maidan – Ternopil”
127. NGO “Right sector”
128. NGO “Strong Galicia”
129. NGO “Ternopil Media Center”
130. NGO “Educational and Analytical Center for Community Development”
131. “Youth Center Ternopil”
132. NGO Bunker C
133. NGO Atom
134. All-Ukrainian public association “Institute Republic”
135. NGO “Youth Center for Development “MIST”
136. NGO “Sources of Public Health”
137. NGO “Center for Communication Studies”
138. NGO “Association of Youth” Druzhba”