On July 15, 2014 the Order of the Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine No. 255 of June 16, 2014 “On Closure of Seaports” entered into force, pursuant to which the seaports of Kerch, Sevastopol, Feodosia, Yalta, Yevpatoria are closed starting from July 15, 2014. The Embassy of Ukraine in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland by the Note Verbal No. 6124/35-327/2-950 of July 21, 2014 through the Secretariat of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has informed the IMO member states, international organizations cooperating with IMO and non-governmental organizations which have been granted consultative status with IMO (IMO Secretariat Circular letter No. 3477) of the closure of above-mentioned seaports starting from July 15, 2014 and until the restoration of the constitutional order of Ukraine on the temporarily occupied territory.
Taking this into account, the Ukrainian Side proceeds from the fact that all flag States, ship owners and ship captains are familiar with the fact of closure of seaports in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol as well as with the risks associated with calling at these ports of Ukraine.
In its Resolution 68/262 “The Territorial Integrity of Ukraine” adopted on March 27, 2014 UN General Assembly calls upon all States, international organizations and specialized agencies not to recognize any alteration of the status of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol on the basis of “the held referendum” and to refrain from any action or dealing that might be interpreted as recognizing any such altered status.
In its Conclusions on Ukraine of June 23, 2014 the EU Foreign Affairs Council, in particular, recalls its strong condemnation of the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol, reminding that the EU will never recognize this annexation.
According to EU Council Implementing Regulation No. 810/2014 of July 25, 2014 implementing Regulation No. 269/2014 concerning restrictive measures in respect of actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, State Ferry Enterprise “Kerch Ferry”, State Enterprise “Kerch Commercial Sea Port” and State Enterprise “Sevastopol Commercial Seaport” were added to the list of persons, entities and bodies subject to restrictive measures.
Calling of ships under foreign flags at closed seaports at the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol shall be considered by the Ukrainian Side as a violation of international law, as actions undermining the sovereignty of Ukraine, and also as violation of the Law of Ukraine, which entails the responsibility of ship owners, ship operators and ship captains, including criminal responsibility.
Those facts shall also be considered by the Ukrainian Side as an action containing the elements of a crime under Article 332-1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine “Violation of the Order of Entry to the Temporarily Occupied Territory of Ukraine and Departure from It”, pursuant to which the violation of the order of entry to the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine and departure from it with the aim of causing damage to the interest of state is punished with custodial restraint for the term up to three years or imprisonment for the same period with confiscation of the transport vehicles.
Taking into account, that Article 94 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea stipulates that every State effectively exercises its jurisdiction and control in administrative, technical and social matters over ships flying its flag, the Ukrainian Side expects that the competent authorities of the Sending States of the Diplomatic Missions accredited in Ukraine shall apply appropriate mechanisms of influence on owners and operators of ships flying its national flag in order to ensure their compliance with international law and the Law of Ukraine, in particular with regard to the closure of seaports located on the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.