THE HAGUE – Ukraine launched a case against Russia at the United Nations’ highest court accusing Moscow of planning genocide and asking the court to intervene to halt the invasion and order Russia to pay reparations, the court said Sunday.
The case, filed Saturday, asks the International Court of Justice, based in The Hague, to indicate “provisional measures” ordering Moscow to “immediately suspend the military operations” that were launched Feb. 24.
The case says Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine based on false claims of acts of genocide in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions of eastern Ukraine and now is planning genocidal acts in Ukraine.
Ukraine “emphatically denies that genocide happened in the eastern regions” and says it filed the case “to establish that Russia has no lawful basis to take action in and against Ukraine for the purpose of preventing and punishing any purported genocide,” the court said in a statement.
The court will schedule a hearing soon to hear the provisional measures request. Orders by the court are legally binding, but not always adhered to. If the court is found to have jurisdiction and the case goes ahead it will likely take years to reach a conclusion. A decision on so-called provisional measures, however, could come far sooner.
The world court already has a case brought by Ukraine on its docket linked to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and Russian funding of rebels in eastern Ukraine. The UN court said in a preliminary ruling in 2017 that it expected both Moscow and Kyiv to work to implement the Minsk peace agreements that were designed to bring peace to conflict-ravaged eastern Ukraine.
The court hears disputes between nations over matters of law, unlike the International Criminal Court, also based in The Hague, that holds individuals criminally responsible for offenses including war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The ICC prosecutor, Karim Khan, said Friday that he was closely monitoring events in Ukraine and warned combatants he has jurisdiction over any genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Ukraine dating back to February 2014.
“Any person who commits such crimes, including by ordering, inciting, or contributing in another manner to the commission of these crimes, may be liable to prosecution before the Court,” Khan said.
He added that it is “imperative that all parties to the conflict respect their obligations under international humanitarian law.”
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