The UN's top court is set to rule on Ukraine's allegation that Russia bankrolled separatist rebels


THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The United Nations' top court plans to rule Wednesday on Ukraine's allegations that Russia bankrolled separatist rebels in the country's east a decade ago and has discriminated against Crimea's multiethnic community since its annexation of the peninsula.

The legally binding final ruling is the first of two expected decisions from the International Court of Justice linked to the decadelong conflict between Russia and Ukraine that exploded into a full-blown war almost two years ago.

The case, filed in 2017, accuses Russia of breaching conventions against discrimination and the financing of terrorism. Ukraine wants the court to order Moscow to pay reparations for attacks and crimes in the country's east, including the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

Russia-backed rebels shot down the plane on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 passengers and crew. Russia denies involvement. A Dutch domestic court convicted two Russians and a pro-Moscow Ukrainian in November 2022 for their roles in the attack and sentenced them in their absence to life imprisonment. The Netherlands and Ukraine also have sued Russia at the European Court of Human Rights over MH17.

At hearings last year, a lawyer for Ukraine, David Zionts, said the pro-Russia forces in eastern Ukraine “attacked civilians as part of a campaign of intimidation and terror. Russian money and weapons fueled this campaign.”

Another lawyer for Ukraine, Harold Koh, said that in the Crimean Peninsula, Russia “sought to replace the multiethnic community that had characterized Crimea before Russia’s intervention with discriminatory Russian nationalism.”

Lawyers for Russia urged the world court to throw out the case, arguing that the actions of pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine did not amount to terrorism.

The court is expected to rule Friday on Russia's objections to its jurisdiction in another case filed by Ukraine shortly after Russian troops invaded on Feb. 24, 2022. It alleges that Moscow launched its attack based on trumped-up genocide allegations. The court already has issued an interim order for Russia to halt the invasion, which Moscow has flouted.

The International Court of Justice in recent weeks also heard a case brought by South Africa accusing Israel of committing genocide in Gaza. Judges issued provisional measures last week calling on Israel to do all it can to prevent death, destruction and any acts of genocide in the conflict.