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Ukraine calls for end to Russian aggression before UN court

Citing ongoing Russian attacks and increasing reports of human suffering emerging from war-torn Ukraine, Ukraine appealed to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Monday to order an end to Russia's invasion.

Amsterdam, 7 March 2022 (dpa/MIA) – Citing ongoing Russian attacks and increasing reports of human suffering emerging from war-torn Ukraine, Ukraine appealed to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Monday to order an end to Russia’s invasion.

Ukraine is calling on the ICJ to put an end to the war and is accusing Russia of violating the Genocide Convention of 1948. “Russia must be stopped,” the representative for Ukraine, Anton Korynevych, said in the Hague on Monday.

Russia boycotted the hearing, the first confrontation between Ukraine and Russia in front of an international court since Russia invaded on February 24.

The Russian ambassador to the Netherlands had informed the court that Russia would refuse to attend the proceedings in the Peace Palace in the Hague. No reasons were given.

The representative for Ukraine accused Russia of contempt for international law, saying: “They are not here in court, they are on the battlefield. … That is how they solve conflicts.”

While it is not clear when a verdict will be reached, Donoghue said that the international judges are keen to reach a decision “as fast as possible”.

Verdicts given by the ICJ are binding, but experts doubt that Russia would follow the orders of the court. The ICJ has no way of forcing a country to act on its decision.

The ICJ could call on the UN Security Council, but Russia has the power to veto any decision made there.

The charge against Russia is based on the Genocide Convention that both countries have signed. Ukraine is accusing Russia of abusing the convention as a justification for its war.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had justified the invasion with the unproven allegation that Russian people in Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine needed to be protected from a genocide taking place there.

“It is a horrific lie from Putin,” said Korynevych. Ukraine is asking the judges to make it clear that there is “no legal foundation” for the invasion or the war.

Representatives from Ukraine are also accusing Russia of war crimes. “Russia is perpetrating war crimes and crimes against humanity,” said Korynevych, calling on the ICJ judges to demand an end to the violence, so that the humanitarian crisis may be solved and irreparable damage averted.

After this first session, the court will decide on the urgency of the case. The main trial will follow, and may take years. Ukraine is also planning to demand reparations from Russia.

Concurrently, the International Criminal Court (ICC), also located in the Hague, is dealing with the war in Ukraine as well. However, in contrast to the ICJ, the ICC deals with individuals accused of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity.

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