Ukraine sued Russia in the International Court of Justice in 2017: Moscow’s aggression began in Donbass in 2014. Now the judges decided. And that is a defeat for Kiev.
The International Court of Justice has largely dismissed a 2017 lawsuit by Ukraine against Russia over financial support for pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine. In its ruling on Wednesday in The Hague, the United Nations’ highest court also largely dismissed the lawsuit alleging discrimination against Ukrainians and Tatars in Crimea. The Court said that the allegations made by Ukraine were not sufficiently substantiated in both cases. Moscow now does not have to pay any compensation. The judges rejected a corresponding request from Ukraine.
However, the UN judges declared that Moscow had violated a legally binding order from 2017. At that time, the court ordered both parties to do everything possible to avoid aggravating the conflict. But in 2022 Russia invaded Ukraine.
Ukraine had already sued Russia in the Court of Justice in 2017, long before the Russian invasion two years ago, citing the Convention on the Prohibition of the Financing of Terrorism. According to Ukraine, Russia’s aggression began in 2014 in Donbass and on the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, which Russia continues to annex to this day.
The judges now assessed only the events before the 2022 invasion and said that the evidence provided by Ukraine of alleged Moscow-funded terrorism in Donbass was insufficient. The convention on which the lawsuit was based also does not refer to support with weapons. According to the verdict, Moscow has not done enough to investigate individual allegations of possible financing of terrorism.
No compensation for shooting down MH17
The judges also rejected the claim for damages for the downing of passenger flight MH17 almost ten years ago. In the summer of 2014, the Malaysia Airlines Boeing was shot down by rebels with a Russian anti-aircraft missile over contested territory in eastern Ukraine. All 298 people on board were killed. A criminal court in The Hague found it proven that the rocket had been delivered from Russia.
Judgments of the International Court of Justice are binding. However, the court does not have the means to enforce this. The current verdict is a defeat for Ukraine, which had hoped to gain support for further calls for more sanctions against Russia. Moscow strictly rejected the allegations.
Ukraine was also unsuccessful in the second part of the lawsuit. The UN judges saw little basis for the accusation of ethnic discrimination against Ukrainians and Tatars in Crimea.
In the conflict, which has now been going on for almost ten years, a second case against Russia is ongoing, also following a lawsuit from Ukraine. Kiev accuses Russia of abusing the Genocide Convention. Moscow justified its attack on Ukraine by saying that a genocide against Russians had to be prevented. A first preliminary decision in this procedure will be made on Friday. The UN judges will decide whether they have the authority to rule on this lawsuit. Thirty-two Western allies of Ukraine, including Germany, support the lawsuit.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.