Ukraine has announced imminent plans to ban international shipping from ports on the breakaway Crimea peninsula, which declared independence earlier this year.
The decree — which covers the ports of Evpatoria, Kerch,Sevastopol, Feodosia and Yalta— could come into effect as early as tomorrow, according to local shipping sources.
It follows a statement circulated via the International Maritime Organization in May, in which Ukraine warns that it is not in a position to uphold its obligations on safety and security in the region.
Odessa-based Eurogal Surveys, the official Lloyd’s agent, said in an email to Lloyd’s List this morning: “We are aware about this news and as per obtained information, the decree will come into force after its official publication. Official publication, as per obtained information, is going to be tomorrow.
“We can only briefly say that such a decree means that any vessel that arrives at the sea ports of the Crimea, does so at its own risk, as shipowners and ship captains who ignore such a ban may face serious problems (fines or even imprisonment).
“Such precedents already exist and nobody can predict what situation will be in future.”
While it will be difficult physically to enforce the decree on territory not under its control, the Kiev administration is the recognised government under international law and has the right to make such a ruling.
The IMO has already circulated a statement drafted by Ukraine to all its members, setting out Kiev’s view of the situation.
In the document, Ukraine describes the ports listed above as under the occupation of the Russian Federation as a result of the illegal annexation of Crimea.
“[The] Russian Federation’s actions make it impossible for Ukraine to be responsible for the safety of vessels and maritime security in accordance with international obligations,” the statement argues.
“It is necessary to notify International Maritime Organization member states about the high level of property risks on approaches and in water areas of above mentioned sea ports and about Ukraine’s inability to assure required level of maritime security in those ports in compliance with international commitments regarding safety of life at sea, search and rescue.”
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