Russia Says UN Court Can’t Rule on Its Role in Ukrainian Crisis

Russia said the International Court of Justice has no authority to rule on Ukrainian allegations that it’s supplying weapons to separatists in Ukraine and repressing the rights of people in Crimea.

Issues of sovereignty, territorial integrity and the right to self-determination are “obviously beyond the court’s jurisdiction,” Roman Kolodkin, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s legal department, told the United Nations’ principal judicial body at a hearing in The Hague on Tuesday.

Kolodkin was responding to Ukraine’s request on Monday for the court to order Russia to “stop the supply of weapons into Ukraine, stop supporting illegal armed groups” and to “refrain from any further acts of ethnic discrimination’’ in Crimea following the 2014 annexation that prompted U.S. and European Union sanctions. Russia denies sending troops and weapons to support rebels fighting in eastern Ukraine, and argues that Crimea voted to join Russia in a referendum. The vote wasn’t internationally recognized.

The hearings are part of a case lodged by Ukraine in January that accuses Russia of breaching international conventions against financing terrorism and racial discrimination. It also calls on the court to declare Russia responsible for the 2014 shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine, in which 298 people died. The court’s rulings are binding on states, though it has no power to enforce them.

Authorities in Kiev accuse Russia of “systematically discriminating” against Ukrainians and Tatars in Crimea. More than 10,000 people have died since the conflict in eastern Ukraine with Russian-backed separatists erupted in April 2014. A February 2015 peace accord negotiated in Minsk, Belarus, by Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France has stalled and fighting continues to flare.

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