KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 19 (Bernama) -- Ukraine is willing to negotiate with Russia to defuse the heightened tensions between the two countries over last month’s Sea of Azov clash whereby, 24 Ukrainian sailors were taken into custody.
Ukraine Ambassador to Malaysia, Olexander Nechytaylo said as Kiev always supported diplomatic solution to any dispute, he believed the current situation could be solved by peaceful means and in full compliance with international laws and existing bilateral obligations.
“We believe all countries should respect international laws, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and any attempt not to comply will only create instability.
“We are a peaceful country and committed to settling the situation through political and diplomatic means. This approach will be very helpful and we also demand the release of our sailors,” he told Bernama in an interview at Wisma Bernama here recently.
On Nov 25, the Ukraine-Russia conflict flared up again when Russian forces reportedly seized three Ukrainian vessels and detained 24 sailors as they tried to pass through the Kerch Strait from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov, a body of water north of the Black Sea shared by both Ukraine and Russia.
Russia has accused the sailors of illegally crossing into Russian waters and ignoring warnings from its border guards.
In response to the incident, martial law was imposed in Ukraine for 30 days as its President Petro Poroshenko warned of the “extremely serious” threat of a Russian land invasion.
Elaborating, the envoy reiterated that international sanctions would be another effective tool in Ukraine’s pursuit to solve the current situation without any military offensive.
Citing the European Union (EU) announcement last Thursday on its six-month extended economic sanctions against Russia over the conflict in Ukraine, Nechytaylo said the action clearly demonstrated that the international community was against any unlawful aggression towards Ukraine.
“The reason why we believe in sanctions is that we do not want any military force -- this is definitely not our approach.
“While imposing sanctions is a very effective and yet peaceful way of delivering the message to the aggressor, we also believe Ukraine is not alone in this. No matter how big or small the country, we are all equal before international law,” he said, noting Ukraine appreciated the clear and consistent support shown by the international community and leaders of the world powers to date.
Asked how Ukraine intended to gather greater international support to avoid further escalation of the situation, Nechytaylo said the United Nations (UN), as well as related international organisations had always been Ukraine’s best referrals.
“We still believe the UN is a very good platform to voice out our position because no other organisation has such wide presentation from all over the world.
“As far as the UN is concerned, we also seek help from UNCLOS, UN Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court. In fact, our (Ukraine) President had met the Secretary-General of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) Jens Stoltenberg and the Chancellor of Germany (Angela Merkel) and of course, the signal is very clear that they are in total solidarity with us, that they (Russia) should release the sailors unconditionally,” he added.
On Nov 27, a court in Simferopol, the main city in Russian-annexed Crimea, ordered 12 of the sailors to be held in pre-trial detention for two months. Three hospitalised sailors were also formally detained for two months.
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