On the night of April 7, the crew of the Crimean “Nord” ship, arrested in Azov sea, made an attempt to leave Ukraine at Hoptivka checkpoint, Kharkiv region.
The State Border Service of Ukraine reports that during border control nine persons, who traveled as passengers in the cars of Russian diplomats, showed some certificates issued by the Russian Federation instead of Ukrainian passports. Whilst the detainees have the official status of the Ukrainian citizens, who live in the annexed Crimea in Kerch, they were not allowed to cross the state border of Ukraine without proper documents.
Also, the crew members were accused of an attempt of the border violation. Currently, they are being interrogated by the Security Service of Ukraine.
The scandal between Russia and Ukraine burst out on March 25, 2018, when Ukrainian border guards detained a fishing vessel “Nord” in Azov Sea. The whole crew of ten including their captain had Russian passports issued in the occupied Crimea.
Border guards escorted the ship to Berdyansk, five days later Kherson city court arrested the ship captain Volodymyr Horbenko for two months. Criminal proceedings were opened against him for violation of the order of passage from and to the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine.
To make it clear, several laws of Ukraine were violated at once. Firstly, the vessel belongs to Ukraine and it was illegally seized by Russians in Kerch in 2014. After that, the ship owner violated the norms of international maritime law by having replaced the Ukrainian flag with the Russian one.
In addition, the ship illegally left the Kerch port, which is closed by Ukraine since June 2014. Then the Ukrainian government officially suspended the operation of all the ports in the Crimea annexed by Russia and closed them for international shipping. Finally, the operations of the “Nord” ship are regarded as poaching as the vessel was fishing in Azov sea by the quota of the Russian Federation, which was not allowed.
Russia declared loud that the captain was arrested illegally, because the Russian ship was fishing outside Ukrainian waters, in international waters. That is not correct as Nord does not have AIS system or other ID except for the name, Maritime Bulletin notes. “Nord” is a coastal fishing vessel, so there’s no track to prove Russian claim, and more to that, Azov sea has a status of inner sea, with fishing grounds being determined by a special bilateral agreement”, the edition states.
Also, they recall that on libeling the ship detention a “piracy act”, Russia is “forgetting, that the ship was annexed together with the Crimean Peninsula in 2014, or hijacked, and re-flagged with violation of all existing laws and regulations”.
A bail of 1,000 Euro has already been paid for the ship captain. The Russian Federation opened proceedings against Ukrainian border guards.
Text: Olena Sokolynska