Ukraine describes Russia as a “terrorist state” before the International Court of Justice
On Tuesday, Ukraine described Russia as a “terrorist state” and accused it before the International Court of Justice of blowing up the Kakhovka Dam, including this as part of a campaign of violence it has been waging against it for years with the aim of wiping the neighboring country off the map.
According to Agence France-Presse, the two countries will present their arguments before the International Court of Justice this week, in a case in which Kiev accuses Moscow of having supported separatist rebels in western Ukraine since 2014 for years.
Ukraine believes that the large-scale Russian invasion that began in February 2022 “is the tragic but logical result” of supporting the separatists and its annexation of Crimea 9 years ago, stressing the need not to allow the aggressors to violate international law.
“Russia is unable to defeat us on the battlefield, so it targets civilian facilities to try to force us to submit,” the representative of the Ukrainian delegation, Anton Korinievich, told the UN court. He added, “Only today, Russia blew up an important dam located in Nova Kakhovka.” He pointed out that the attack on the dam, for which Kiev and Moscow are accusing each other of being responsible, had “caused major civilian evacuations and serious environmental damage.” He continued, “Russia’s actions are the actions of a terrorist and aggressor state.”
In this case, brought before the International Court of Justice in 2017, Ukraine argues that Russia violated UN conventions on the financing of terrorism and racial discrimination, and seeks compensation for separatist rebel attacks.
The conflict with pro-Russian separatists has killed about 13,000 people since it broke out at the beginning of 2014, a month after the departure of pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych, and Moscow annexed Crimea.
Ukraine’s lawyers will speak on Tuesday, while Russia’s lawyers will speak on Thursday. Ukraine will then respond on June 12 and Russia on the 14th of the same month.
Kiev submitted another petition to the International Court of Justice after the start of the Russian invasion in February 2022, accusing Moscow of planning genocide. In this case, the International Court of Justice ordered Russia to suspend its invasion.
The International Court of Justice was established after World War II to settle disputes between member states of the United Nations, and its decisions are binding although it has no means of enforcement.
“Campaign to Eliminate Culture”
Ukraine says Russia’s disdain for international law dates back to before last year.
“Beginning in 2014, Russia illegally occupied Crimea, and then engaged in a campaign to eradicate culture, targeting indigenous Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars,” Kurenevich said.
He added, “In the Donbass and in Kharkiv…we were subjected to a campaign of harassment and terror fueled by Russia.”
Currently, Russia occupies a large part of the violent Ukrainian territory, where the separatists were in control.
Among the dead in eastern Ukraine were 298 people killed in the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014.
Last year, a Dutch court ruled that Russia supported the separatists, and sentenced two Russians and a Ukrainian separatist to life in prison in absentia for shooting down MH17.
On Tuesday, the Ukrainian delegation told the International Court of Justice that Russian officials had made themselves “guilty of financing terrorism” by securing the missile, knowing that the rebels were going to use it to shoot down a plane.
Attorney David Zionets said the tragedy “is yet another tragic example of the consequences of Russia’s lack of full cooperation” under the UN Convention against Terrorism.
The lawyer, Marni Chick, noted that Russia provided rebel separatists with rocket launchers that were used against civilians in eastern Ukraine in 2015.
International investigators said this year there were “strong indications” that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally agreed to secure the missile that brought down the plane.
Russia faces a series of legal proceedings in The Hague.
In March, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant against Putin, accusing him of a war crime for transporting children from occupied Ukrainian regions to Russia.