A bill has been submitted to the State Duma to consolidate the status of the Sea of Azov as an exclusively internal body of water in Russia, which is not subject to international legislation, writes RIA Novosti with reference to Russian MP Mikhail Sheremet.
According to Sheremet, the document has already been approved by the relevant State Duma committee, the bill can be adopted before the end of 2023.
The deputy noted that after Russia annexed the territories of the Zaporozhye, Kherson and Donetsk regions of Ukraine, which have access to the Sea of Azov, “historical justice triumphed and Ukraine lost the status of a coastal state here.”
Russian troops occupied the coastal areas of Zaporozhye, Kherson and Donetsk regions in the first days and months of the full-scale invasion. Warships of the Russian Navy were relocated to Ukrainian ports on the Sea of Azov, providing security for the land corridor from Russia to the previously annexed Crimea.
On September 30, 2022, Vladimir Putin announced the signing of agreements on the admission into the Russian Federation of the territories of the so-called “DPR”, “LPR”, Kherson and Zaporozhye regions occupied by Russian troops. At the same time, Moscow does not completely control the territory of any of the Ukrainian regions, the annexation of which it announced. Significant parts of the Zaporozhye region (including its center, the city of Zaporozhye) and the Donetsk region, as well as small sections of the Kherson and Luhansk regions remain under the control of Ukraine.
Pseudo-referendums were held in the Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine from September 23 to 27 last year. Based on the results of the so-called vote, the occupation authorities of the occupied Ukrainian regions appealed to Putin to include these territories into Russia.
International law does not describe in detail the issues of the legality of referendums in the occupied territories. Except that the UN Charter in paragraph 4 of Article 2 prohibits the violation of the territorial integrity of countries, that is, the annexation of territories.
In 2014, the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe considered a bill that could become the basis for the annexation of Crimea. The commission came to the conclusion that it violates the international principles of territorial integrity, national sovereignty, and non-interference in the internal affairs of another state. The commission found that the pseudo-referendum in Crimea did not meet European democratic standards. These conclusions remain valid today in relation to all occupied territories, noted the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Marija Pejčinović-Burić.
“Annexation of the territory of another state is tantamount to a violation of international law, in particular the Charter of the United Nations,” she said.