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Ukraine Brands Russia 'Terrorist State'06/06 06:04

   A top Ukrainian diplomat called Russia a "terrorist state" Tuesday as he 
opened his country's case against Moscow at the United Nations' highest court, 
and lawyers argued that Russia bankrolled a "campaign of intimidation and 
terror" by rebels in eastern Ukraine in 2014.

   THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) -- A top Ukrainian diplomat called Russia a 
"terrorist state" Tuesday as he opened his country's case against Moscow at the 
United Nations' highest court, and lawyers argued that Russia bankrolled a 
"campaign of intimidation and terror" by rebels in eastern Ukraine in 2014.

   Anton Korynevych was addressing judges at the International Court of Justice 
in a case brought by Kyiv against Russia linked to Moscow's 2014 annexation of 
the Crimean Peninsula and the arming of rebels in eastern Ukraine in the years 
before Russia's full-scale invasion in February 2022.

   Ukraine wants the world court to order Moscow to pay reparations for attacks 
in the regions, including for the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 that 
was shot down by Russia-backed rebels on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 
passengers and crew.

   "When it could have instructed its officials not to fund groups committing 
violence against, Russia did nothing," Harold Koh, a lawyer for Ukraine, told 
judges. "Instead, as more deadly weapons arrived in Ukraine and more Ukrainian 
civilians suffered atrocities, Russian officials escalated their illegal supply 
of monies and weapons sending."

   Koh said that in July 2014, a Buk anti-aircraft system was sent into Ukraine 
"after which Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was destroyed."

   Earlier, Korynevych said that with Moscow unable to beat Ukraine on the 
battlefield, "it targets civilian infrastructure to try to freeze us into 
submission. Earlier today, just today, ... Russia blew up a major dam located 
in Nova Kakhovka, causing significant civilians evacuations, harsh ecological 
damages and threatening the safety of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. 
Russia's actions are the actions of a terrorist state, an aggressor."

   Four days of hearings in the court's ornate, wood-paneled Great Hall of 
Justice opened against a backdrop of Europe's deadliest conflict since World 
War II. Ukraine and Russia are trading accusations of blame for the damage to 
the Kakhovka dam and hydroelectric power station, which are located in a part 
of Ukraine that Moscow controls.

   Meanwhile, in The Hague, lawyers for Kyiv were presenting legal arguments to 
support their case Tuesday, followed by Russia on Thursday. Each side has 
another opportunity next week to present evidence. Judges are expected to take 
months to issue a judgment.

   Another lawyer on Ukraine's team, David Zionts, said that pro-Russia forces 
in eastern Ukraine "attacked civilians as part of a campaign of intimidation 
and terror. Russian money and weapons fueled this campaign."

   The case is one of several legal proceedings against Russia linked to 
Ukraine.

   In a separate case brought by Ukraine in the immediate aftermath of Russia's 
illegal invasion, the world court issued a preliminary order calling on Russia 
to stop hostilities -- a legally binding ruling that Moscow ignored.

   In that case, Kyiv is arguing that Russia violated the 1948 Genocide 
Convention by falsely accusing Ukraine of committing genocide and using that as 
a pretext for the Feb. 24, 2022, invasion. Moscow argues that the court doesn't 
have jurisdiction.

   Not far away at the International Criminal Court, judges have issued an 
arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin on charges of deporting and 
illegally transferring children from Ukraine. Russia isn't a member of the 
court and doesn't recognize its jurisdiction.

   Meanwhile, a Dutch domestic court last year convicted two Russians and a 
pro-Moscow Ukrainian for their roles in downing MH17 and sentenced them in 
their absence to life imprisonment. Ukraine also has another case against 
Russia at the International Court of Justice over its invasion, and the 
Netherlands and Ukraine are suing Moscow at the European Court of Human Rights 
over MH17.

   Russia has always denied involvement in the downing of the passenger jet 
that was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down by a 
Soviet-era missile over eastern Ukraine.

   Tuesday's hearing is in a case Kyiv brought in 2017 related to Russia arming 
rebels in eastern Ukraine and restricting the rights of ethnic Tatars and other 
minorities following its annexation of Crimea in 2014.

   "The Russian Federation has contempt for international law," Korynevych 
said. "Over the last 16 months, the world has woken up to this dark reality."

 
 
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