No chance of Russia compensating Ukraine over Crimea reunification - UN court official

Participants of a festive event dedicated to the second anniversary of Crimea reuniting with Russia in Yalta. © Maks Vetrov
Ukraine’s threats to seek compensation from Russia over its 2014 reunification with Crimea are doomed to failure because they lack any legal grounds, according to an official from a UN arbitration court.

I have repeatedly heard statements from [Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavel] Klimkin in which he promised to file a lawsuit [against Russia] at some international court in the nearest future,” Kamil Bekyashev, a member of the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, said in comments with Izvestia daily.

At the same time, he cannot say what particular instance Ukraine is going to address. There is a hierarchy of international court bodies, consisting of the UN International Court, the Permanent Court of Arbitration and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea… But whatever court they turn to, I will be there,” Bekyashev added.

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The official noted that even though the Ukrainian lawsuit against Russia could technically be accepted, there was no real chance of it gaining any momentum because the Crimean Republic became a part of the Russian Federation by the will of its people, expressed almost unanimously in the 2014 referendum.

Everything was done in accordance with international law, on the basis of the expression of the people’s will and according to the UN Charter – the people is a subject of international law. On these grounds, the court would most likely turn down the lawsuit,” Bekyashev noted.

Lack of recognition of the reunification by most countries is not important for the court. The Crimean people as subjects of international law have decided to join another state – there are many similar cases in international practice.”

The official also said that even if the case is accepted, the process would take from five to 10 years due to its extreme complexity.

The head of the Crimean Republic, Sergey Aksyonov, told Izvestia that he had decided not to comment on Kiev’s claims because he considered Ukrainian officials “mentally ill people.”

What else they are going to sue us for? In my opinion, the flight of their thought has achieved such grandeur that it becomes difficult to make any forecasts,” Aksyonov said.

Earlier this week, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Klimkin again said Kiev would very soon sue Russia over alleged violations of the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea. He added that the lawsuit would be an “all-enveloping document” and that it would include the use of maritime space, environmental security and cultural heritage sites. Klimkin also promised that Ukraine would “go all the way to the compensation.”

The press secretary of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko tweeted later in the week that his boss had ordered the Foreign Ministry to prepare a set of lawsuits against Russia, in particular addressing the arbitration court that deals with rows over sea space.

In late August, the deputy PM of the Crimean Republic, Ruslan Balbek, told the press the region could counter Kiev’s claims by suing Ukraine in an international court for damages inflicted by 20 years of disastrous misrule as well as the total collapse of the peninsula’s infrastructure.

Crimea has the right to file a countersuit and demand that Ukraine compensate it for the looting it committed on the peninsula for two decades. At that time, under the ‘patronage’ of Kiev authorities, Crimean lands and real estate got sold for nothing. They took all of the taxes that were collected, but invested nothing into our infrastructure or economy,” Balbek said.

READ MORE: Crimea ready to sue Ukraine over ‘20 years of looting’ – official

Crimea became a part of the Russian Federation in March of 2014, when over 96 percent of Crimean residents voted in favor of the move in a referendum. The decision was prompted by the ouster of the democratically elected president of Ukraine in a violent coup in Kiev, which was followed by the installation of a nationalist-backed government. The new authorities almost immediately declared war on the pro-Russian regions in the country’s southeast, which refused to recognize the newly imposed regime.