The Arbitral Tribunal ruled against the preliminary objections of the Russian Federation in a dispute concerning coastal state rights in the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov, and the Kerch Strait.
“The Tribunal agreed with Ukraine that Russia’s claim of an internal waters status was not a proper subject for a jurisdictional objection and should be decided at the merits stage of the case. The ruling means that Russia will face legal scrutiny for its illegal construction of the Kerch Bridge and its harassment of vessels in the Sea of Azov, both of which harm international navigation to Ukrainian ports,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said in a statement on February 21.
The Tribunal’s decision supports the international consensus, and the Tribunal itself made clear that it does not endorse Russia’s claim of sovereignty. This ruling is a rebuke to Russia’s view that its unilateral actions are immune from legal challenge.
As a result of the ruling, Ukraine will present its case on the merits before the law of the Sea Tribunal. After further filings, the Tribunal will hold a hearing on the merits at which Ukraine will present its full case.