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Better late, than never?


Better late, than never?         

As we have just been informed, president Poroshenko entrusted the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine to initiate a claim for contravention of arbitration proceedings against Russian Federation concerning the protection of rights and interests of Ukraine, guaranteed by the 1982 United Nations Conventions on the Law of the Sea, and violated by Russian armed aggression.

The president underscored that the claim is initiated due to gross violation of international law by Russian Federation, its aggression against Ukraine, annexation of Crimea, violation of Ukraine’s right to natural resources of the water areas of Black Sea and Azov Sea.

At first sight it seems that everything is right, but it still feels like wasted time. It is not clear why the president has given a commission so important for the MFA only after two and a half years since the annexation of Crimea.  My first thought was that it was only focused on the protection of our interests in the water areas of Black Sea and Azov Sea, which is an additional aspect of Ukraine-Russia legal battle. Considering legal protection of proprietary rights of Ukraine in Crimea, I was confident that these issues, as the MFA used to assure, are already under consideration of international judicial authority. Unfortunately, it is not true.

The official message shows that serious work is only about to start. The Presidential Administration informs that along with arbitral proceedings against Russia on the issues of maritime law, there are “documents under development… to bring a suit to international judicial authority. In particular, it concerns protection of propriety rights of Ukrainian economic entities, which were violated as consequence of the Crimea annexation, as well as protection of rights of state institutions which were annexed by Russian aggressor in Crimea.” We can tell that the suits are only being prepared, and even if MFA starts implementing president’s orders tomorrow, it will take at least a year to approve the acceptability of the case and 4-5 years more to solve the case.

          Ukrainian Foreign Policy Association has repeatedly called not to postpone filing lawsuits against Russia to international judicial authority. Time is not on our side, as Ukrainian property in Crimea gradually gets lost in Russian infrastructure, defining its real actionable amount is getting more difficult. A lot of time has been lost and if we keep postponing we may lose chances for court ruling, favorable for Ukraine.

Oleksandr Kupchyshyn

Vice President of the Ukrainian foreign policy Association

Extraordinary and plenipotentiary ambassador


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