On 21 February 2020 the Arbitral Tribunal (Annex VII of UNCLOS) in the Dispute Concerning Coastal State Rights in the Black Sea, Sea of Azov, and Kerch Strait (Ukraine v. the Russian Federation) issued its Award Concerning Preliminary Objections of the Russian Federation. The Parties had 21 days to consider whether any part of the Award should be designated as containing “confidential information”, resulting in publication of the Award being delayed until 16 March 2020. The Arbitral Tribunal unanimously:
a) Upholds the Russian Federation’s objection that the Arbitral Tribunal has no jurisdiction over Ukraine’s claims, to the extent that a ruling of the Arbitral Tribunal on the merits of Ukraine’s claims necessarily requires it to decide, directly or implicitly, on the sovereignty of either Party over Crimea;
b) Finds that the Russian Federation’s objection that the Arbitral Tribunal has no jurisdiction over Ukraine’s claims concerning activities in the Sea of Azov and in the Kerch Strait does not possess an exclusively preliminary character, and accordingly decides to reserve this matter for consideration and decision in the proceedings on the merits;
c) Rejects the other objections of the Russian Federation to its jurisdiction;
d) Requests Ukraine to file a revised version of its Memorial, which shall take full account of the scope of, and limits to, the Arbitral Tribunal’s jurisdiction as determined in the present Award;
e) Decides that each Party shall bear its own costs. [Award, para. 492]
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation already responded to the Award on the 21 February 2020 and 22 February 2020, respectively. Both signal that they will participate in the next phase of the proceedings on the merits.