Russia refutes Ukraine's complaint against rebel support in US court

Grigory Lukiyantsev, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, in charge of human rights, was seen at a hearing in a case initiated by Ukraine, alleging that Moscow financed pro-Russian separatist groups in Ukraine, The Hague, The Netherlands, on 3 June 2019. REUTERS / Eva Plevier

THE HAGUE (Reuters) – Russia said at a hearing before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Monday that the court had no jurisdiction in a case filed by Ukraine against Moscow for his alleged support of pro-Russian separatists in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

In a case filed before the ICJ in 2017, also known as the World Court, Ukraine has asked the judges to order Russia to stop pretending to fund and equip the Kremlin forces and to put end to the alleged discrimination against the Crimean Tartar ethnic group.

Moscow has repeatedly denied having sent troops or military equipment into eastern Ukraine and said the Kiev claim was a devious way to have the court rule on the legality of the law. Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. The fighting in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian government forces claimed the lives of about 13,000 people.

"The case brought by Ukraine must be dismissed for incompetence," Dmitry Lobach, the Russian ambassador representing Moscow, told the court.

He denied Ukraine's accusations that Russia was involved in the destruction of Malaysia Airlines' MH17 flight against a rebel-held Ukraine in July 2014 and thus violated the US counterterrorism convention.

Kiev has not demonstrated that Moscow had "the intention and knowledge" required by the convention, which would entail the jurisdiction of the court, he said.

The airline crashed after being hit by a Russian-made Buk missile, making 298 passengers and crew members.

Lobach said that a six-country investigative team led by the Netherlands – which concluded that the launcher carrying the surface-to-air missile had come from a Russian base – had not answered the question of why the plane had been shot down and who was responsible ".

This week's hearings will focus solely on the issue of jurisdiction, a decision that could be made late this year or early in 2020.

Edited by Anthony Deutsch and Raissa Kasolowsky

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