world news headline news
Russia accused Ukraine at the UN’s top court Thursday of destroying a key dam with artillery strikes, and accused Kyiv of telling judges “blatant lies”. headline news
Moscow urged the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to reject a case brought by Kyiv over Russia’s alleged backing of separatists in eastern Ukraine and the 2014 annexation of Crimea.
“Ukraine has declared that Russia blew up the large dam at Nova Kakhovka. In fact, it’s Ukraine that did it,” Russian diplomat Alexander Shulgin told the court in The Hague.
“The Kyiv regime not only launched massive artillery attacks against the dam on the night of June 6, but it also deliberately raised the water level of the Kakhovka reservoir to a critical level” by opening sluice gates at a hydroelectric plant beforehand, he said.
Kyiv says Russia blew up the dam in Russian-held southern Ukraine, causing huge floods and a number of deaths.
Ukraine opened its formal arguments at the ICJ on Tuesday in a case that it first filed in 2017, branding Russia a “terrorist state” whose support for rebels was the precursor for Moscow’s full-scale invasion in February 2022.
It says Russia breached a UN treaty on terrorism funding and wants Russia to pay reparations for attacks, including the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in July 2014, in which 298 people died.
Kyiv says Moscow’s treatment of the Crimean Tatar minority and Ukrainian speakers in occupied Crimea breaches an international convention on racial discrimination.
But Shulgin, Russia’s ambassador to the Netherlands, accused Ukraine of “blatant lies and false accusations against the Russian federation, even to this court.”
Repeating allegations made by Russian President Vladimir Putin in an effort to justify last year’s invasion, Shulgin accused the Ukrainian government of being “neo-Nazis”.
“This regime rose to power on the back of a violent coup in 2014 on the shoulders of nationalists who were the direct descendents of the Nazi collaborators in World War II,” Shulgin said.
The Russian envoy said Ukraine’s government had “neo-Nazis” in key posts including in the armed forces, accusing them of “brutal repression” in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region.
Putin has said one of the goals of his “special military operation” was the “de-Nazification” of Ukraine. The claims have been contested by the Ukrainian government and the country’s Jewish community.
Lawyers for Russia meanwhile cast doubt on Ukraine’s claims about the downing of MH17 as well as separatist attacks on Ukrainian cities since 2014.
British lawyer Michael Swainston, representing Moscow, told the ICJ that “injury in armed conflict to civilians is inevitable, it does not point to terrorism”.
“And of course soldiers also make mistakes,” he said.
Swainston said allegations that Russia had supplied the missile and backed the rebels who shot down flight MH17 were based on “unsourced digital nonsense” such as social media.
A Dutch court sentenced in absentia two Russians and a Ukrainian to life sentences in 2022 over the MH17 tragedy.
A verdict by the ICJ, which was created after World War II to deal with disputes between UN member states, is not expected for months or even years.
© Agence France-Presse. All rights are reserved.