THE HAGUE, The Netherlands (AP) — Ukraine asked the United Nations Supreme Court on Monday to order Russia to stop its devastating invasion, saying Moscow is already committing wide-ranging war crimes and “recourse to tactics reminiscent of medieval siege wars” in its 12 anniversaries. one-day military onslaught.
Russia snubbed the ICJ hearings and left its seats in the Great Hall of Justice empty.
On the lawn in front of the court’s headquarters, the Peace Palace in The Hague, a protester set up colored candles while writing the words: “Putin, come out.”
The representative of Ukraine, Anton Korynevych, told the judges at the International Court of Justice: “Russia must be stopped, and the court must play its part in stopping it.”
Ukraine has filed a lawsuit demanding that Russia be ordered to “immediately suspend military operations” launched on February 24 “which have as their stated aim the prevention and punishment of alleged genocide” in the separatist eastern regions of Lugansk and Donetsk.
Kyiv’s lawyers rejected Russia’s claim.
“Ukraine comes to this court because of grotesque lies and in search of protection from the devastating consequences of these lies,” David Sionts told the court. “Lies are the statements of the Russian Federation about the genocide in Ukraine. The consequences are unprovoked aggression, besieged cities, shelling of civilians, a humanitarian catastrophe and refugees fleeing.”
A decision on Ukraine’s request is expected in the coming days.
If the court were to issue a ceasefire order, as Ukraine requested, “I think the chances of that happening are nil,” said Terry Gill, professor of military law at the University of Amsterdam. He noted that if a country does not comply with a court order, judges can turn to the UN Security Council, where Russia has a veto.
The presiding judge, US Judge Joan E. Donoghue, said Russia’s ambassador to the Netherlands, Alexander Shulgin, told the judges that “his government does not intend to participate in the oral proceedings.”
Due to Russia’s refusal to participate in the hearings, Moscow’s turn to present legal arguments on Tuesday was cancelled.
Korinevich condemned Moscow’s dismissive attitude.
“The fact that Russian seats are empty speaks volumes,” he said. “They are not here in this court. They are on the battlefield waging an aggressive war against my country.”
The request for so-called provisional measures is linked to a case filed by Ukraine under the Genocide Convention. Both countries have ratified the 1948 treaty, which includes a clause allowing countries to submit disputes based on its provisions to a court in The Hague.
“Ukraine categorically denies that such a genocide took place, and that the Russian Federation has any legal grounds for taking action in Ukraine and against Ukraine in order to prevent and punish genocide,” the country’s lawsuit says.
Even before the hearing, on March 1, Donoghue sent a message to the Russian Foreign Minister insisting on the need to act “in such a way that any order of the Court that may be issued on a request for provisional measures will have appropriate consequences.”
Jonathan Gimblett, a member of Ukraine’s legal team, emphasized the urgency of Ukraine’s case, stating that “Moscow’s military aggression could lead to a new nuclear catastrophe that will affect not only Ukraine or Russia, but potentially a vast adjacent territory.”
He added that Russia “today resorts to tactics reminiscent of a medieval siege, surrounding cities, cutting off escape routes and firing heavy artillery shells at civilians.”
The success of Ukraine’s application will depend on whether the court recognizes that it has “prima facie jurisdiction” over the case, which is no guarantee that the court will ultimately proceed with the claim. Cases before the International Court of Justice usually take years.
Regardless of the outcome of the hearings, they give Ukraine another platform to express dissatisfaction with Moscow’s invasion.
“I think it’s part of an overall diplomatic strategy to try and put as much pressure on Russia as possible,” Gill said.
The representative of Ukraine, Oksana Zolotareva, emotionally emphasized the high stakes at the closing of the hearings.
“As I speak, the Russian Federation continues its ruthless attacks on our cities, on our towns, on our villages, on our people,” she told the judges.
She added: “We do not yet know the true number of Ukrainians that Russia has killed in the last eleven days. We can only guess how many more will be killed in the next eleven days if this senseless aggression does not stop.”
Follow AP reporting on the Ukraine crisis at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.