I. United Nations General Assembly adopted the resolution “Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine”.
On December 22, 2018 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the resolution “Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine”.
The General Assembly points out that the overall human rights situation on the Ukrainian peninsula is sharply deteriorating and, despite the urges by the international community, the Russian Federation continues to blatantly violate its obligations as an occupying power. The delegations condemned Russia’s non-compliance with the provisions of the previous UNGA resolutions 71/205 and 71/190 adopted in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
The states also condemned the ongoing arbitrary arrests and detentions, disappearances, searches, violence and ill-treatment of activists, which became an everyday reality in what has been until recently a peaceful and stable Ukrainian autonomous republic.
The resolution calls upon all the states and international organizations to refer to Crimea as the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine.
The adoption of the resolution demonstrates once again the firm support of Ukraine by the international community despite desperate attempts by Russia to block the resolution and allocation of financial resources for the monitoring of human rights situation on the peninsula.
2. Situation in the Waters of the Sea of Azov and Kerch Strait.
Since early 2014, Russia has engaged in numerous blatant violations of Ukraine’s rights under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and other relevant rules of international law.
Over the past two years, Russia has completed the construction of three projects across the Kerch Strait: submarine power cables, a gas pipeline and a road and rail bridge.
These actions violate numerous provisions of UNCLOS, including those pertaining to Ukraine’s rights in its territorial sea, Russia’s obligations to protect the marine environment, and Russia’s obligation not to impede transit passage through the Kerch Strait — a busy and narrow stretch of water connecting the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov, and to Ukraine’s ports at Mariupol and Berdyansk.
The Kerch Strait Bridge is a hindrance to international navigation. The bridge is only 35 meters high, and only vessels with an air draft of less than 33 meters and a length of less than 160 meters may safely pass under it. As a result, Panamax vessels and many Handymax vessels are now prevented from transiting the Kerch Strait. This has had a major impact on traffic to Ukraine’s ports.
Since 29 April 2018, Russia has engaged in a new campaign to interfere with Ukraine’s rights in the Sea of Azov. The Russian Federation has stopped more than 200 vessels bound for Mariupol or Berdyansk in the Kerch Strait or Sea of Azov. In many cases, the vessels have been subjected to multiple stoppages on their way to and/or returning from these ports, resulting in significant delays and attendant economic losses.
The Russian Federation’s discriminatory stoppages of vessels bound for Ukraine’s Sea of Azov ports are inconsistent with Russia’s fundamental obligations under UNCLOS and have resulted in significant costs not just to Ukraine, but also to the crews, owners, and flag States of the vessels that Russia has harassed.
On November 25, 2018 Russia engaged in a new wave of violation of the UNCLOS by blocking, attacking. Detaining and seizure of Ukrainian military vessels in the Black Sea and near the Kerch Strait. Such actions constitute grave violation of UNCLOS provisions that regulate territorial waters, international straits and exclusive economic zone.
Ukraine filed its position on Russia’s preliminary objections on jurisdiction together with the letter on aggravation of dispute by Russia that contains descriptions of all above mentioned facts.
3. Establishment of an Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
On January 6, 2019 ceremonies took place in Istanbul to recognise the independence of Ukraine's Orthodox Church from Russia. The recently formed Orthodox Church of Ukraine has been granted independence, marking a historic split from the Russian Church.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew - the head of the global Orthodox Church - has signed a document in Istanbul, Turkey, to that effect. It formalises an October announcement.
The Patriarch has signed what is known as a "tomos", a decree officially recognising an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in the presence of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who travelled to Istanbul for the occasion.
The Tomos was presented to His Beatitude Epifaniy, Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine, for the establishment of the new Autocephalous Church, and thus concluding the process of creating a single native autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
The Tomos for Ukraine is actually another act of proclaiming Ukraine's independence. It will complete the assertion of the independence of the Ukrainian state, strengthen religious freedom, interconfessional peace. It will strengthen the rights and freedoms of citizens.