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Ukraine calls Russia a ’terrorist state’ at MH17 hearing

A senior Ukrainian diplomat called Russia a terrorist state at the top UN court, as hearings began in the case over the downing of a Malaysian Airlines flight in 2014.

It was the first time lawyers for Ukraine and Russia met at the International Court of Justice since Moscow launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year.

A panel of 16 judges at the ICJ began hearing Ukraine’s claim that Moscow violated a UN anti-terrorism treaty by equipping and funding pro-Russian forces who international investigators concluded shot down the jetliner over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 passengers and crew.

In the same claim, Ukraine has also asked the Hague-based court to order Russia to halt alleged discrimination against the Crimean Tatar ethnic group in the Ukrainian peninsula which was occupied by Russia in 2014.

In opening remarks on Tuesday, Ukrainian Ambassador-at-large Anton Korynevych commented on the destruction on the Nova Kakhovka hydroelectric dam in the southern Kherson region of Ukraine, which burst hours earlier.

Kyiv says Russia blew up the dam.

Some Russian-installed officials have said it was destroyed by Ukrainian shelling; others have said it burst on its own.

“Russia cannot defeat us on the battle field, so it targets civilian infrastructure to try to freeze us into submission,” Mr Korynevych told hearings.

“Just today Russia blew up a major dam … causing significant civilian evacuations, ecological damages and threatening the safety of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.”

He added that “Russia’s actions are the actions of a terrorist state”.

Two Russians and a Ukrainian separatist were convicted by a Dutch court of murder in the case of flight MH17, which was shot down by a Russian-made missile on July 17, 2014 over pro-Russian separatist-held eastern Ukraine.

-Reuters

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