Nikolai Polozov, a lawyer representing the Ukrainian sailors who were detained by Russia near Crimea in November, said on Wednesday that he was not aware of an alleged deal to have them return to their homelandKIEV (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 24th July, 2019) Nikolai Polozov, a lawyer representing the Ukrainian sailors who were detained by Russia near Crimea in November, said on Wednesday that he was not aware of an alleged deal to have them return to their homeland.
Earlier in the day, Ukrainian ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova said that Russia and Ukraine had agreed to let the sailors go home and were finalizing the necessary paperwork. She also noted that this was the decision of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS). However, she later made another statement saying that the negotiations were underway, without mentioning the arrangements for the sailors that she had spoke of earlier.
"I can say that the negotiations are underway, but I don't know the status [of these negotiations] or when they are due to be put into practice because I do not take part in them. If there are any procedural steps, we [the legal team] will know about it. The sailors will not sign papers in the absence of their defense. But no one has said anything yet," Polozov told Public Television of Russia on Wednesday.
In November 2018, Ukraine's Berdyansk and Nikopol gunboats, and the Yany Kapu tugboat illegally crossed the Russian maritime border as they sailed toward the Kerch Strait, which is the entrance to the Sea of Azov. Russia seized the vessels and detained their crews after they failed to respond to a demand to stop. The incident led to Russia launching a criminal case into the illegal border crossing.
Moscow has repeatedly said that it would not take part in ITLOS hearings since the tribunal did not have jurisdiction to review Ukraine's claims.