Russia will not accept sea tribunal’s role in Greenpeace ship case

Russia will not participate in the hearings about the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, news agency ANP reports on Wednesday, quoting Russian media agency Interfax.

On Monday evening, Dutch foreign minister Frans Timmermans said the Netherlands will press on with its case about the seizure of the ship, which sails under the Dutch flag, and the arrest of its 30-strong crew.

Timmermans said he has asked the tribunal to make an interim judgement, releasing both the ship and its crew pending a definitive ruling.

But according to Interfax, the Russian foreign ministry says Moscow will not ‘accept’ such a case although it remains open to other ways of solving the situation.


Russian media said earlier Russia made exceptions to its recognition of the tribunal when it ratified the UN code of the sea. These include ‘conflicts which involve sovereign rights and jurisdiction’.

The Netherlands started the arbitration process two weeks ago. ‘Everyone has the right to ask for a preliminary ruling after two weeks. The Russians are aware of this,’ Timmermans said.

The tribunal’s role is to rule on issues affecting the sea and to end differences between countries over the application of the UN treaties. The tribunal has 21 independent judges and its current president is Shunji Yanai of Japan. The tribunal’s rulings are binding.

The Arctic Sunrise sails under the Dutch flag and two of the crew are Dutch nationals. The ship was seized by the Russian coastguard while protesting at Gazprom drilling in Arctic waters.

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