On the Arbitration Ruling in the Arctic Sunrise Lawsuit

From the briefing by Deputy Director of the Information and Press Department Artyom Kozhin, Moscow, July 20, 2017

On July 18, the Permanent Court of Arbitration released its ruling on compensation to the plaintiff in the Arctic Sunrise lawsuit, which was brought by the Kingdom of the Netherlands against the Russian Federation in 2013.

The Russian Federation did not participate in the arbitration hearings as it continues to maintain that the arbitration court has no jurisdiction in this case.

The tribunal’s latest ruling imparts a financial dimension to an earlier decision, issued two years ago, on August 14, 2015, which says that by curbing Greenpeace actions with respect to the Prirazlomnaya oil rig, Russia violated its obligations under the 1982 UN Convention of the Law of the Sea. The ruling ignores the fact that the actions by the Greenpeace activists posed a direct threat to the safety of the oil platform and its staff and were provocative, thereby forcing competent Russian bodies to take legal steps to curb that dangerous behaviour.

We pointed out that the aforementioned ruling is not comprehensive and ignores the widespread international practice of countering irresponsible actions at sea, including with regard to potentially dangerous and sophisticated technological facilities (this practice and Russia’s position are spelled out in the Russian Foreign Ministry’s official statement released on August 5, 2015). It is hard to add anything to this assessment with respect to the latest ruling on damages.

Regrettably, by its rulings, the Court of Arbitration actually encourages purposeful illegal actions in exclusive economic areas of countries and on their continental shelf, justifying them as so-called “peaceful protest.”