ICJ rejects most of Ukraine’s ‘terrorism’ case against Russia

Kyiv had accused Moscow of being a ‘terrorist’ state and claimed it funded separatists in eastern Ukraine.

A general view of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Netherlands [File: Thilo Schmuelgen/Reuters]Published On 31 Jan 202431 Jan 2024

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has rejected much of a case filed by Ukraine that accused Russia of funding separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine a decade ago, saying only that Moscow had failed to investigate alleged breaches.

Kyiv had accused Moscow of being a “terrorist state” whose support for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine was a harbinger of the full-fledged 2022 invasion.

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Ukraine also wanted Russia to compensate all civilians caught up in the conflict, as well as victims from Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014.

The top United Nations court declined to rule specifically on alleged Russian responsibility for the shooting down of the plane.

The ICJ tossed out most of Ukraine’s pleas, ruling only that Russia was “failing to take measures to investigate facts … regarding persons who have allegedly committed an offence”.

The court added that only cash transfers could be considered as support for alleged “terrorist” groups under the terms of the international convention on terrorism financing.

This “does not include the means used to commit acts of terrorism, including weapons or training camps”, the court ruled on Wednesday.

“Consequently, the alleged supply of weapons to various armed groups operating in Ukraine … fall outside the material scope of the ICSFT” convention, the ICJ said.

The 16-judge panel once again ordered Russia to investigate any plausible allegations of “terrorism” financing.

‘Russia trying to wipe us off the map’

Russia was also in the dock for alleged breaches of an international convention on racial discrimination due to its treatment of the Tatar minority and Ukrainian speakers in occupied Crimea.

Here the court found that Russia had not taken sufficient measures to enable education in Ukrainian.

During hearings on the case, Alexander Shulgin, Russia’s ambassador to the Netherlands, accused Ukraine of “blatant lies and false accusations … even to this court”.

Top Ukrainian diplomat Anton Korynevych retorted that Russia was trying to “wipe us off the map”.

“Beginning in 2014, Russia illegally occupied Crimea and then engaged in a campaign of cultural erasure, taking aim at ethnic Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars,” said Korynevych.

On Friday, the ICJ will rule in another case in which Kyiv has accused Moscow of falsely applying the UN’s 1948 Genocide Convention to justify its February 24, 2022, invasion of Ukraine.

The court’s judgements are final and without appeal but it has no way to enforce its rulings.

Source: News Agencies