In a significant development at the International Court of Justice, Ukraine officially labeled Russia as a terrorist state. The declaration came during hearings related to Moscow’s alleged support for pro-Russian rebels implicated in the tragic downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in 2014.
The proceedings marked the first encounter between Ukrainian and Russian legal teams in the International Court of Justice, also known as the World Court, since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Both parties were represented by extensive legal teams comprising numerous representatives.
A panel of 16 judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) commenced the hearings, focusing on Ukraine’s accusation that Russia violated a UN anti-terrorism treaty by providing arms and assistance to pro-Russian militants.
International investigators have determined that these militants were responsible for shooting down the passenger plane over eastern Ukraine, resulting in the tragic loss of all 298 individuals on board.
In addition to holding Russia accountable for its alleged involvement in the MH17 incident, Ukraine has called upon the court, based in The Hague, to compel Russia to cease its discriminatory actions against the Crimean Tatar ethnic community in the Ukrainian peninsula. Russia had invaded Crimea in 2014.
During the opening statements, Ukrainian Ambassador-at-large Anton Korynevych highlighted the recent devastation caused by the bursting of the Nova Kakhovka hydroelectric dam in Ukraine’s southern Kherson area.
Kyiv authorities assert that Russia deliberately destroyed the dam, while some Russian-installed officials claim it was a result of Ukrainian bombardment, while others argue it collapsed spontaneously.
“Russia cannot defeat us on the battlefield, so it targets civilian infrastructure to try to freeze us into submission,” Korynevych told hearings. “Just today Russia blew up a major dam … causing significant civilian evacuations, ecological damages and threatening the safety of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.”
He added that “Russia’s actions are the actions of a terrorist state.”
Two Russians and a Ukrainian separatist were convicted by a Dutch court of murder in the case of flight MH17, which was shot down by a Russian-made missile on 17 July 2014 over pro-Russian separatist-held eastern Ukraine.
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