Ukraine accuses Russia of ‘terrorism’ in top UN court

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) holds a public hearing in the case of Ukraine against the Russian Federation, in The Hague on Monday. (AFP)
Updated 06 March 2017
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Ukraine accuses Russia of ‘terrorism’ in top UN court

THE HAGUE: Ukraine urged the UN’s top court on Monday to help bring stability to its war-torn east, seeking to convince judges that Russia is “sponsoring terrorism” in Kiev’s conflict with separatist pro-Russian rebels.
“Today I stand before the court to ask for the protection of the basic human rights of the Ukrainian people,” Kiev’s Deputy Foreign Minister Olena Zerkal told the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
“Thousands of innocent Ukrainians have already suffered deadly attacks,” she said.
Nearly three years of conflict have claimed about 10,000 lives in eastern Ukraine — and led to Russia’s seizure of Ukraine’s southern peninsula of Crimea in 2014 — pushing ties between Moscow and the West to their lowest point since the Cold War.
“Today I stand before the world to seek protection for the Ukraine from the Russian Federation,” Zerkal added, saying all Kiev was seeking was “a measure of stability and calm in an unpredictable and dangerous situation.”
Ukraine’s representatives are asking the ICJ to impose emergency measures ordering Russia to stop its alleged funnelling of money, weapons and personnel into the east, and to halt what it called “discrimination” against minorities in Russian-occupied Crimea.
It is also seeking compensation for attacks on civilians during the conflict.
Moscow has long denied arming the rebels and has said the case is motivated only “by political interests.”
It has also claimed that Kiev has “shown a lack of will to hold a concrete dialogue.”
Ukraine lodged its case against its former Soviet master at the ICJ in mid-January, saying it had protested for several years against Moscow’s alleged financing of separatist rebels battling Ukrainian government forces.
Kiev says Moscow has “largely failed” to respond to its efforts to resolve the dispute and that “further negotiations would be futile.”
Ukraine now “respectfully requests the court to adjudge and declare that the Russian Federation bears international responsibility by virtue of its sponsorship of terrorism... for the acts of terrorism committed by its proxies in Ukraine,” it said in papers before the court.
“Russia must stop the flow of weapons and assistance across its borders to groups that launch terrorist attacks against civilians,” said Harold Hongju Koh, another of Kiev’s representatives.
Ukraine was facing a “human rights emergency,” he said, adding that, “in Crimea, Russia must cease its campaign of cultural erasure.”
Since Russia insists it has not violated any conventions if it “will not refrain, it must be because its behavior is neither innocent, nor legal,” added Koh, a professor in international law.
Rare talks between Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin over last month proved “fruitless,” the Ukrainian presidency said in a statement Thursday.
Poroshenko hailed the start of the four days of hearings Monday, calling it “a historic moment” on his Facebook page.
“The truth is stronger than weapons!” he wrote.
The hearings come after an upsurge in the violence, which killed 35 people in early February, centered-around the government-held town of Avdiivka near the rebel bastion of Donetsk.
Moscow also “brazenly defied” the UN Charter by seizing Ukraine’s southern peninsula of Crimea, Kiev said in its filing, accusing Russia of discriminating against Crimean minorities such as Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians.
Ukraine is seeking “full reparations for... acts of terrorism the Russian Federation has caused, facilitated or supported,” it said, including the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 by a missile over rebel-held eastern Ukraine in 2014.
Russia will make its case on Tuesday, with about 35 Russian officials attending the hearings due to end on Thursday.
The ICJ was set up in 1945 to rule in disputes between countries.
While UN member nations are bound to abide by the tribunal’s decisions, the court’s ruling is unlikely to have much concrete effect on the ground, experts said.


Indonesian agency downplays volcanic eruption

Lava streams down from Anak Krakatoa volcano during an eruption as seen from Rakata island in South Lampung. (AFP)
Updated 2 min 49 sec ago
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Indonesian agency downplays volcanic eruption

  • No one lives on Krakatau, which forms a small island in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra, but the peak is a popular tourist spot
  • Indonesia is situated on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", a vast zone of geological instability

JAKARTA: The deadly 1883 eruption of Mount Krakatoa is unlikely to happen again despite the Anak Krakatoa volcanic island showing signs of increased activity, said Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency.
The agency has raised the alert status to the second of four levels since June 18 after the volcano rumbled back to life by spewing ash and lava, prompting officials to declare an exclusion zone within 1 km of the summit.
Anak Krakatoa caused hundreds of mild tremors on Thursday, according to seismographic data from the agency.
“It continues to rumble, and the eruptions are a normal phenomenon,” agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told Arab News on Friday.
“Anak Krakatoa erupts as it continues to emerge higher, but the eruptions are never big since the energy of the magma it expels to the surface isn’t strong,” he said.
“Even though it erupts hundreds of times every day and the alert level has been increased, it’s not dangerous. It won’t cause a tsunami like in 1883.”
The eruption that year caused a 30-meter-high tsunami that killed more than 36 million people and lowered global temperatures by around 1.2 degrees Celcius for five years.
The eruption was so loud that it was audible as far away as Perth in western Australia, which is 3,100 km away, and in Mauritius, which is 4,800 km away.
The volcano erupted 479 times last weekend, gushing plumes of thick smoke up to 800 meters high, and lava was visible streaming down from its summit at night, Nugroho said. The eruptions have so far not affected flights or sea voyages, he added.
The Sunda Strait, where the island is located, is a busy shipping lane and accommodates the 30-km, frequently used ferry crossing between the islands of Java and Sumatra.
Anak Krakatoa is uninhabited, but its 300-meter-high summit is a popular tourist destination. It is one of the 127 active volcanoes — a third of the world’s total — that dot the Indonesian archipelago, and is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, where several tectonic plates meet and subduct, frequently triggering earthquakes and volcanic activity.