Proceedings against Russia in UN court begin with allegations from Ukraine

2023-06-06 07:26:02

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The United Nations’ highest court began hearings Tuesday in proceedings against Russia launched by Ukraine over Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and rearmament of rebels in eastern Ukraine before the February 2022 invasion.

Kiev wants the International Court of Justice to order Moscow to pay reparations for attacks in those regions, including the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which was shot down by Russian-backed rebels on July 17, 2014. The 298 passengers and crew members on board were killed.

The four-day hearing in the court’s ornate Great Hall of Justice began as Europe’s deadliest conflict since World War II raged in Ukraine. Ka accused Russian forces on Tuesday of blowing up a major dam and hydroelectric plant in a part of the country controlled by Moscow, threatening to cause massive flooding.

kyiv’s lawyers will present legal arguments to support their case on Tuesday, followed by Russia on Thursday. Each side has another opportunity to present evidence next week. Judges are expected to take months to issue a decision.

The case is one of the legal proceedings against Russia associated with Ukraine.

In another case brought by Ukraine right after the illegal Russian invasion began, the international court issued a preliminary order for Russia to halt hostilities, a legally binding ruling that Moscow ignored.

In that case, Kiev alleges that Russia violated the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide by falsely accusing Ukraine of committing genocide and using it as a pretext for the February 24, 2022 invasion. Moscow alleges that the court does not have jurisdiction.

A few kilometers away, at the International Criminal Court, judges have issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin, accused of illegally deporting and transferring children from Ukraine. Russia is not a member of the court and does not recognize its jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, a Dutch court convicted in absentia last year two Russians and a pro-Russian Ukrainian for their role in the attack on MH17 and sentenced them to life in prison. Ukraine also has another case against Russia at the International Court of Justice over its invasion last year, and both the Netherlands and Ukraine have sued Moscow at the European Court of Human Rights over the downing of MH17.

Russia has always denied any involvement in the crash of the passenger plane, which was traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down by a Soviet-era missile over eastern Ukraine.

The case beginning Tuesday was brought by Kiev in 2017 and accused Russia of arming rebels in eastern Ukraine and limiting the rights of ethnic Tatars and other minorities after its annexation of Crimea in 2014.

In a preliminary ruling, the court ordered Russia to stop limiting “the ability of the Crimean Tatar community to maintain its representative institutions.”

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