Ukraine slams ‘terrorist state’ Russia at top UN court

Ukraine branded Russia a “terrorist state” at the UN’s top court on Tuesday, accusing Moscow of blowing up a major dam as part of a years-long campaign to wipe its smaller neighbour off the map.

The two sides faced off at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague in a case brought by Kyiv alleging that Moscow has backed rebels in eastern Ukraine since 2014.

Ukraine said Russia’s full-scale invasion in 2022 was the “tragic but logical outcome” of Moscow’s alleged support for the separatists and showed that aggressors should not be allowed to breach international law.

“Just today, Russia blew up a major dam located in Nova Kakhovka, causing significant civilian evacuations, harsh ecological damages, and threatening the safety of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant,” Ukraine’s representative Anton Korynevych told the court.

“Russia’s actions are the actions of a terrorist state, an aggressor,” he added.

“But such actions did not appear out of the blue. They are the tragic but logical outcome of the situation we brought to this court’s attention back in 2017” when it originally filed the case.

Ukraine alleges that Russia breached UN conventions on financing terrorism and on racial discrimination, and is seeking damages for attacks by pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine since 2014.

About 13,000 people died in the eight years of violence before the 2022 invasion, including 298 who were killed when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine in 2014.

Ukraine has since filed a separate case related to Russia’s February 2022 invasion, accusing Moscow of planning genocide. The ICJ in that case ordered Russia to suspend the invasion.

– ‘Cultural erasure’ –

But Korynevych said that “Russia’s contempt for international law didn’t start in 2022.”

“Beginning in 2014, Russia illegally occupied Crimea and then engaged in a campaign of cultural erasure, taking aim at ethnic Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars,” he said.