Ukraine accuses Moscow of ‘planning acts of genocide’ in UN court filing
The highest UN court has confirmed it received an application by Ukraine asking it to launch proceedings against Russia under the Genocide Convention. Accusing Moscow of planning to commit acts of genocide against Ukrainians, Kiev also denied accusations that it has waged genocide against the people of the Lugansk and Donetsk republics.
In a press release on Sunday, the International Court of Justice – the principal judicial body of the UN – revealed that Kiev formally requested that the court establish its jurisdiction over the ongoing military conflict between Russia and Ukraine so that its case against Russia can be considered under the provisions of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crimes of Genocide.
In its filing, Kiev said that it “emphatically denies” the allegation by the Kremlin that it targeted the population of the newly-recognized republics, in what Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier insisted was an eight-year “genocide.”
“The Russian Federation has falsely claimed that acts of genocide have occurred in the Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts of Ukraine, and on that basis recognized the so-called ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ and Luhansk People’s Republic’,” Kiev’s application reads, as cited by the court.
Kiev went on to make a counter-claim, accusing Russia of “planning acts of genocide in Ukraine” and arguing that Russia has been “intentionally killing and inflicting serious injury on members of the Ukrainian nationality.”
The application does not provide any specific evidence of ‘genocide’ by the Russian forces. The Russian military has repeatedly stated that it strikes military infrastructure only, while accusing Kiev of trying to use civilians as “human shields.”
Speaking at the UN Security Council meeting on Sunday, Russia’s envoy to the organization, Vassily Nebenzia, argued that the crisis in Ukraine began not with the launch of Russia’s ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine, but “much earlier, when you [the international community] had turned a blind eye to the crimes of Ukrainian nationalists in Donbass.”
The application asks the court to rule on provisional measures against Russia “in order to prevent irreparable prejudice to the rights of Ukraine and its people and to avoid aggravating or extending the dispute between the parties under the Genocide Convention.”
The International Court of Justice, which is based in the Hague, is vested with the power to rule on legal disputes between UN member-states. However, the UN court does not assign individual responsibility to potential war crimes. While the hearing on provisional measures is expected to take place in the near future, proceedings typically drag on for years.
The Russian military offensive in Ukraine was launched on Thursday, with Putin stating that its goal is to “denazify” and “demilitarize” Ukraine, as well as to defend the Donbass republics, which have been recognized recently by Russia. Ukraine, the US, UK, EU, Germany, and NATO have all accused Russia of launching an “unprovoked” attack on Ukraine. The West has since imposed several packages of sweeping sanctions targeting the Russian economy as a whole, as well as Putin personally and dozens of other Russian officials.