On January 16, Ukraine filed a lawsuit in the International Court of Justice in The Hague accusing Russia of terrorism and discrimination in connection with its aggression against Ukraine.
Deputy Foreign Minister for the European Integration Olena Zerkal reported that Ukraine's interests in the lawsuit will be represented by the international law firm Covington and Burling LLP. Legal fees will be paid from the state budget; the amount of payment will depend on the scope of work such as the duration of the legal process.
In the past, lawyers of Covington and Burling LLP already defended the interests of Naftogaz in the case against Gazprom and they also conducted an independent audit of the Yulia Tymoshenko case and made a decision that her prosecution was unlawful. The firm’s corporate clients include Apple, Bank of America, Giorgio Armani, IBM, Harley-Davidson, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, NASCAR, the NBA, the NFL and Procter and Gamble.
Zerkal also noted that soon the United Nations International Court of Justice will schedule a hearing in order to review the possibility of implementing provisional measures against Russia in view of Ukraine's lawsuit.
"This week, after the Court registered our claim, they are going to determine the date when the hearing on the application of the provisional measures can be started. In Georgia's case, three weeks was enough for them to prepare for the court session. Further hearings will be held. We need to prove that the court should make a decision on the provisional measures and that because of the very high tension in Ukraine, without these measures the situation may worsen. We will have three days for these hearings," Zerkal said.
According to her, after the hearings, the court makes a decision on the application of these measures.
"The Court can change our offer, it [the position of the court], of course, will be softer and not the one we want, because the Court makes a more balanced decision with respect to both sides. After that, the court will determine the timetable for the consideration of the case. The consideration might be held in several stages. The party that filed the lawsuit is given time to prepare a memorandum and submit it under the Convention. The other side is also given time to prepare its position. And the trial will begin. Typically, such processes last two or three years," the diplomat summed up.
President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko said that Ukraine has submitted a claim to the International Criminal Court in The Hague to prove that Russia is financing terrorism. A spokesman of the head of the state, Svyatoslav Tsegolko wrote this on his Twitter account. Poroshenko noted that by carrying out the battle for its independence, Ukraine stands for the values of the whole democratic world because Russia is conducting a "global hybrid war.” At the same time, he stressed that Russia must withdraw its troops from Ukraine.
Earlier, the annual report of the preliminary investigation of the International Criminal Court in The Hague said that the situation in the Crimea is equivalent to an international armed conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
But what are the chances of Ukraine for success in The Hague? The former Government Commissioner for the European Court of Human Rights, Borys Babin believes that with proper preparation, Ukraine has a good chance to win this case. It is quite possible to find and document the evidence on financing of terrorism and discrimination based on ethnicity, Babin is sure.
According to him, Ukraine can still lose the case if there is no sufficient coordination between the positions of different Ukrainian government bodies. Thus, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is trying to present Ukraine as a victim of foreign aggression. At the same time, the Ministry of Temporarily Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced Persons is preparing a document that makes Ukraine responsible for the observance of human rights in the occupied territories.
Babin said that the most glaring example of this is a plan recently adopted by the government for the reintegration of the Donbas.
"Such plans, among other things, are nullifying the three-year long work of many lawyers in Ukraine and abroad who are trying to bring to justice the aggressor State for the international crimes it has committed, violations of the decisions of the international courts and human rights abuses in Donbas," Babin says.
Such documents might be used by Russian lawyers to confirm the thesis that there is an internal conflict in Ukraine, and that Kyiv itself must be held responsible for the crimes in the territories that are not under Ukraine's control.