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Saying 'Russia Must Pay,' Kyiv Sues Moscow At UN Court

  • Christopher Miller

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry filed the lawsuit with the UN at the request of President Petro Poroshenko (pictured, file photo).

KYIV -- Ukraine has sued Russia at the UN International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, accusing Moscow of acts of "terrorism" and "discrimination" related to its backing separatists in eastern Ukraine and its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula

The Foreign Ministry filed the lawsuit late on January 16 at the request of President Petro Poroshenko.

It claims that Russia has violated the UN Convention For The Suppression Of The Financing Of Terrorism by supporting separatists fighting government forces in a war that has killed more than 9,750 people since April 2014.

It also claims that Russia has oppressed Crimean Tatars, an ethnic minority whose homeland is Crimea.

"For three years, Russia has been committing the illegal annexation of Crimea, illegal occupation of the east of our country in the territory of [the] Donetsk and Luhansk regions, [and] implementing the policy of elimination and discrimination in Crimea," Poroshenko said at a meeting with Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev and three other top officials.

Armed Russians "have committed numerous terrorist attacks affecting hundreds of thousands of innocent people forced to leave their home," he said.

"Russia must pay the price for its aggression," Poroshenko said.

Ukrainian authorities call the nearly three-year-old conflict in eastern Ukraine an "antiterrorist operation," and often refer to those fighting against government forces as "terrorists."

Neither Kyiv nor Russia, which denies it has backed the separatists with troops or weapons despite mounting evidence, has formally declared war.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mariana Betsa told RFE/RL that the lawsuit was the result of three years of "titanic work" by Ukrainian authorities. It is the first lawsuit filed with the ICJ by Kyiv, which has sent at least four lawsuits against Russia to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Ukraine is aware that the ICJ may not consider the lawsuit for years, if ever, Betsa said.

"But we have hope," she said, adding that it is "inevitable" that Russia will bear responsibility "for crimes it has committed."

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    Christopher Miller

    Christopher Miller is a correspondent based in Kyiv and covers the former Soviet republics. He can be reached at millerjchristopher@gmail.com

     

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