THE HAGUE, Netherlands: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is set to deliver a final, legally binding ruling on Wednesday in a case where Ukraine accuses Russia of supporting rebels in 2014 and discriminating against Crimea’s multiethnic community following the region’s annexation.
This marks the initial decision in a series of two connected to the decade-long conflict between Russia and Ukraine that escalated into a full-scale war nearly two years ago.
The case, filed in 2017, alleges Moscow’s violations of conventions against discrimination and the financing of terrorism. Kyiv seeks reparations from Moscow for attacks and crimes in eastern Ukraine, including the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on July 17, 2014, by Russia-backed rebels, resulting in the deaths of all 298 passengers and crew.
In hearings last year, Ukraine’s lawyer, David Zionts, asserted that pro-Russia forces in eastern Ukraine engaged in a campaign of intimidation and terror against civilians, fueled by Russian money and weapons.
The downing of MH17 was highlighted among these attacks. In November 2022, a Dutch domestic court convicted two Russians and a pro-Moscow Ukrainian for their roles in the attack, sentencing them in absentia to life imprisonment.
The Netherlands and Ukraine are also pursuing legal action against Moscow at the European Court of Human Rights over MH17, although Russia denies involvement.
Another lawyer for Ukraine, Harold Koh, argued that in Crimea, Russia aimed to replace the pre-existing multiethnic community with discriminatory Russian nationalism.
Russia’s legal representatives urged the ICJ to dismiss the case, contending that the actions of pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine do not amount to terrorism.
On Friday, the ICJ will deliver a ruling on Russia’s objections to its jurisdiction in a case initiated by Ukraine shortly after the invasion, alleging that Moscow launched its attack based on unfounded genocide allegations. The court had previously issued an interim order for Russia to cease its invasion, a directive that Moscow has disregarded.
In recent weeks, the ICJ heard a case filed by South Africa accusing Israel of committing genocide in Gaza. Last week, judges issued provisional measures, calling on Israel to take all necessary steps to prevent death, destruction, and any acts of genocide in the conflict.