THE HAGUE: Russia called on the UN’s highest court in The Hague on Monday to throw out what it said was a “hopelessly flawed” case challenging Moscow’s argument that its invasion of Ukraine was carried out to prevent genocide.
The Russian request was made as representatives from the two warring nations went head-to-head at the sumptuous Peace Palace in The Hague over whether the top UN court has the jurisdiction to order a halt to Russia’s ongoing military action.
Moscow says Ukraine was using the case as a roundabout way to get a ruling on the overall legality of Russia’s military action. Experts say a ruling in Kyiv’s favour would not stop the war but could impact future reparation payments.
Ukraine had brought the case just days after the Russian invasion on Feb 24, 2022. Kyiv argues Russia is abusing international law by saying the invasion was justified to prevent an alleged genocide in eastern Ukraine.
Kyiv insists there was no risk of genocide in eastern Ukraine, where it had been fighting Russian-backed forces since 2014, and that the genocide treaty does not allow an invasion to stop an alleged genocide. Moscow continues to accuse Ukraine of committing genocide.
On Monday, Russia repeated allegations that the “Russophobic and neo-Nazi regime in Kyiv” was using the United Nations’ 1948 Genocide Convention, to which both countries are a party, as a pretext to “drag” a case before the court.
The hearings, set to run until Sept 27, will not delve into the merits of the case and are instead focused on legal arguments about jurisdiction. The convention defines genocide as crimes committed “with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such.”
“Ukraine insists no genocide has occurred,” Russia’s agent to the court, Gennady Kuzmin, said in opening remarks.
Published in Dawn, September 19th, 2023