Ukraine has launched a case against Russia at the UN’s highest court, accusing Moscow of planning genocide and asking the court to halt the incursion and order Russia to pay reparations, the court said on Sunday.
The case, filed on Saturday, asks the International Court of Justice in The Hague for “provisional measures” ordering Moscow to “immediately suspend the military operations” that were launched on February 24.
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.
It 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 probably 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 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 Moscow and Kiev to work at implementing 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 people criminally responsible for offences including war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The ICC prosecutor, Karim Khan, said on Friday that he was closely monitoring events in Ukraine.
Mr Khan warned the combatants that 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,” he said.
Mr Khan said it was “imperative that all parties to the conflict respect their obligations under international humanitarian law".