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International Court of Justice to Hear Ukraine-Russia Genocide Case

Ukrainian Ambassador-at-large Anton Korynevych addresses the media in The Hague, Netherlands, Feb. 2, 2024.
Ukrainian Ambassador-at-large Anton Korynevych addresses the media in The Hague, Netherlands, Feb. 2, 2024.

The U.N.'s International Court of Justice (ICJ) said Friday it will hear a case in which Ukraine has asked the court to declare it did not commit genocide in eastern parts of the country, a claim Russia made as a pretext for its invasion.

Ukraine filed its case at the ICJ just days after the February 2022 invasion, asserting Moscow violated the 1948 Genocide Convention when it said the invasion was necessary to stop an alleged genocide of Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine.

The court Friday said it did not have jurisdiction to rule directly on that issue. Instead, it will rule on whether Ukraine violated the convention and did, in fact, commit genocide in eastern Ukraine. That decision will not likely come for years.

Even though the court only partially supported its complaint, Ukraine's representative to the ICJ, Anton Korynevych, told reporters Friday in The Hague the court's ruling was important, because it will decide on the issue of whether Ukraine is responsible, in his words, "for some mythical genocide."

Korynevych also noted that a preliminary ruling the ICJ made in March 2022, ordering Russia to immediately halt its military operations in Ukraine, is still in force.

Russia has continued to ignore that ruling. While the court's rulings are legally binding, it has no enforcement mechanism.

The Associated Press reports Russia's representatives left the court without making a comment.

Earlier this week, Ukraine won another small victory at the ICJ when the judges ruled Russia had violated U.N. treaties against the financing of terrorism and discrimination in a different case that dealt with incidents from 2014.

Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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