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The escalation of tensions around the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait and threats to European security

Doc. 14811: collection of written amendments | Doc. 14811 | 24/01/2019 | Revised version

Caption: AdoptedRejectedWithdrawnNo electronic votes

ADraft Resolution

1The Parliamentary Assembly is deeply concerned about the escalation of tensions between the Russian Federation and Ukraine in the region of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait, which culminated on 25 November 2018 when three Ukrainian warships were manoeuvring from Odessa, on the Ukrainian Black Sea coast, to the city of Mariupol on the Sea of Azov.
2The Russian Border Service of the Federal Security Service opened fire on the above-mentioned vessels, seized them and captured 24 Ukrainian servicemen, three of whom were wounded. The incident took place in the Black Sea, near the entrance to the Kerch Strait. There is, however, disagreement between Ukraine and Russia about the exact location and its specific legal status. Currently, the Ukrainian servicemen are being detained in Russia. The Assembly condemns the use of military force by the Russian Federation against Ukrainian warships and their crews.
3On 26 November 2018, martial law was introduced in several regions of Ukraine, for 30 days, by a directive “on extreme measures to ensure the national sovereignty and independence of Ukraine”. The Assembly welcomes the lifting of martial law in Ukraine on 26 December 2018.
4The Assembly underlines that the Russian Federation and Ukraine are members of the Council of Europe and have committed themselves to its Statute (ETS No. 1) which requires the pursuit of peace based on justice and international co-operation, which is vital for the preservation of human society and civilisation. They have both committed themselves to solve their conflicts peacefully.
5Referring to the Treaty between the Russian Federation and Ukraine on Cooperation in the Use of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait, signed in December 2003 and ratified by both countries in April 2004, the Assembly notes that, according to Article 2.1 of the Treaty, the free passage of merchant vessels and warships of both the Russian Federation and Ukraine in the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait, which are shared territorial waters, must be respected and freedom of passage ensured.
6The Assembly therefore urges the Russian Federation to:
6.1immediately release the Ukrainian servicemen and ensure they are granted the necessary medical, legal and/or consular assistance;

In the draft resolution, paragraph 6.1, after the words "consular assistance", insert the following words: "as prisoners of war in accordance with relevant provisions of international humanitarian law".

6.2ensure freedom of passage in the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait in accordance with the above-mentioned Treaty and any other mutually agreed procedures;

In the draft resolution, paragraph 6.2, replace the words: "any other mutually agreed procedures" with the following words: "the UN Law of the Sea Convention".

6.3refrain from violence in the case of differing opinions about alleged border violations and rather follow the above-mentioned and other international procedures for dispute solutions.
7The Assembly calls on the authorities of the Russian Federation and of Ukraine to:
7.1respect both the Treaty on the Use of the Sea of Azov and Kerch Strait and the agreed regulations for navigation through the Canal;
7.2refrain from any further steps which might escalate the conflict and threaten security in the wider region. It fully supports the efforts made through diplomatic channels and legal procedures of both sides concerned.

In the draft resolution, paragraph 7.2, after the words "refrain from any further steps which might", insert the following words: "aggravate the legal disputes between Ukraine and the Russian Federation,".

8For its part, the Assembly:
8.1reiterates its commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders and recalls in this respect Resolution 1990 (2014) on the reconsideration on substantive grounds of the previously ratified credentials of the Russian delegation, Resolution 2034 (2015) on the challenge, on substantive grounds, of the still unratified credentials of the delegation of the Russian Federation, Resolution 2063 (2015) on the consideration of the annulment of the previously ratified credentials of the delegation of the Russian Federation (follow-up to paragraph 16 of Resolution 2034 (2015)) and Resolution 2132 (2016) on the political consequences of the Russian aggression in Ukraine;
8.2expresses great concern about the construction by Russia of the bridge over the Kerch Strait, which it considers illegal and another breach of Ukraine’s sovereignty, as well as about Russia’s policy regarding the selective search of Ukrainian and international ships, which hinder navigation to and from the Sea of Azov;
8.3supports the proposal by the European Parliament that the mandate of the Special Monitoring Mission Ukraine of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which covers the entire territory of Ukraine, including maritime areas, also covers the new area of tensions in and around the Sea of Azov;
8.4supports the proposal, made by Germany and France, that third country observers monitor shipping traffic and guarantee freedom of navigation in the Kerch Strait;
8.5urges Council of Europe member States to do everything in their power to avoid a further escalation of violence with potentially dangerous consequences for security in the wider region;
8.6calls on the international bodies which have competence in the field, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), to visit the Ukrainian servicemen in prison, pending their release, and supports any diplomatic action taken by member States aimed at their release.