FAKE NEWS: The International Court of Justice says that Russia is not an aggressor

The judges led by President Joan Donoghue (C) prior to the ruling of the International Court of Justice in a lawsuit that Ukraine filed against Russia in The Hague, the Netherlands, 31 January 2024.
© EPA-EFE/REMKO DE WAAL   |   The judges led by President Joan Donoghue (C) prior to the ruling of the International Court of Justice in a lawsuit that Ukraine filed against Russia in The Hague, the Netherlands, 31 January 2024.

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The International Court of Justice says that Ukraine started the war in Donbas and Russia is not the aggressor state, according to Russian propaganda, which interprets a decision of the Court in the Hague.

NEWS: Russia is not an aggressor state, says the International Court of Justice. Regarding the financing of terrorism, all the accusations made by Ukraine were rejected. The Court could not be manipulated by Kyiv and refused to recognize Russia as an aggressor state […]. It was confirmed that Russia conscientiously fulfilled its international cooperation obligations in the field of combating the financing of terrorism. The Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN, Maria Zabolotskaya, drew attention to the fact that Ukraine's lies that the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics were "terrorist organizations" were the basis of Kyiv's decision to launch an "anti-terrorist operation" against Donbas.

“Therefore, the Court’s decision shows that Kyiv made a criminal decision to start the war in Donbas. That criminal decision has triggered the current situation in Ukraine”, the diplomat stressed.

NARRATIVE: According to the International Court of Justice, Ukraine assaulted the population of Donbas and caused the 2022 war.

LOCAL CONTEXT/ETHOS: In 2017, at the International Court of Justice, Ukraine accused Russia of financing terrorism on its territory by supporting pro-Moscow rebels in Donbas. Kyiv asked the court to hold Moscow responsible for financing separatists in eastern Ukraine, who were reportedly carrying out terrorist activities, and to pay compensation for the attacks, including the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in July 2014. In the years 2014-2022, Ukraine carried out an "anti-terrorist operation" in Donbas with the aim of liberating its territories controlled by Russian-backed rebels. On January 31, 2024, after nearly two years of Russian full-scale war on the territory of Ukraine, the International Court of Justice issued a single ruling on both terrorism financing and racial discrimination by the Kremlin.

PURPOSE: To manipulate the public opinion by intentionally misinterpreting the decision issued by the International Court of Justice in the context of Russia's full-scale war on Ukraine.

WHY THE NARRATIVE IS FALSE: In reality, the ICJ did not rule against Ukraine, did not accuse Kyiv of starting the war in Donbas, or claim that Russia was not an aggressor state. This false narrative promoted by the Russian state media does not reflect the decision of the Hague Court, it’s just the Kremlin's interpretation of it. Ukraina.ru, RIA Novosti and Lenta.ru quoted the representative of the Russian Federation at the UN, Maria Zabolotskaya, who said that the West must apologize to Russia for unfairly accusing it of starting the war in Ukraine. According to the Russian media, the ICJ proved that Ukraine had aggressed the population of Donbas, and Russia therefore had to come to the defense of Russian speakers.

Russian propaganda has its own explanation for the ICJ decision, resuming a series of false narratives from the past: Ukraine mocks Russophones, and Russia is forced to defend its citizens, including on the territory of other countries.

In fact, in its decision of January 31 this year, the ICJ declined to rule on Ukraine's allegations that the Russian government was responsible for the downing of flight MH17 . The Russian press writes that it was confirmed that Moscow "conscientiously fulfilled its obligations of international cooperation in the field of combating the financing of terrorism." In reality, the Court's judges said that Russia had violated the UN anti-terrorism treaty by failing to investigate plausible allegations that  some funds had been sent from Russia to Ukraine   to potentially finance terrorist activities. The judges also ordered Russia to investigate any plausible allegations of terrorism financing but rejected Ukraine's request for compensation.

Even though Kyiv's accusations against Russia regarding the terrorist activities of the supported rebels in Donbas have been largely dismissed, this does not mean that Moscow is not to blame for starting the war. The ICJ did not analyze whether Russia was an aggressor state, but whether it financed terrorism. Kyiv's evidence was not enough for the ICJ to seek reparations from Russia. The decision, however, does not mean that Russia has been acquitted and it is not legal to be called an aggressor state.

Moreover, the international judges ruled that Moscow violated a 2017 interim ruling   ordering both sides to do everything possible to avoid an escalation of the conflict. In other words, Russia is indirectly accused of aggressing Ukraine in 2022.

The representative of Ukraine, Anton Korynevych, has stressed that the decision established, for the first time, that Russia has violated international law on the territory of Ukraine.

Based on Kyiv's failure to prove that Russia has financed terrorism, the Russian media accuses Ukraine of groundlessly launching a war against Donbas, which was the excuse for the decision to announce the "special military operation" on February 24, 2022. In reality, Ukraine had the right to defend its territories from Russian-funded local separatist activities, and the recent ICJ ruling does not mean that the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics had the right to independence under Russian protectorate. According to the  UN Charter , every state has the right to self-defense, and borders are inviolable. Kyiv's decision to react to the military provocations in Donbas is not "criminal", and the ICJ has not ruled on this. The Russian media is manipulating public opinion on this topic to exonerate Russia and justify its full-scale war on Ukraine. Kyiv's failure in the "Russia - terrorist state" case does not mean that it is no longer an aggressor state.

It is worth noting that in November 2022, a Dutch court sentenced two Russians and a Ukrainian to life imprisonment for the downing of  Malaysia Airlines flight MH17  in July 2014. Russian citizens Igor Girkin and Sergey Dubinsky were convicted along with Ukrainian separatist Leonid Kharchenko. The missile that brought down the plane was Russian made.

GRAIN OF TRUTH: The Hague Court largely rejected the terrorism case opened by Ukraine against Russia and the decision was described by the international press as one of Kyiv’s failures. The court rejected Ukraine's requests to be granted material reparations for military actions and the downing of the Dutch aircraft.

  • Publication / Media:
    ukraina.ru
  • Date of publication:
    01/02/2024
  • Target audience:
    The Russian-speaking population of Russia, Belarus, and the Ukrainian regions occupied by the Russian troops.
  • Amplification:
    PNP.RU, RIA NOVOSTI, IZVESTIA, DZEN.RU, LENTA.RU, STATE TV CHANNELS, RUSSIAN MEDIA TELEGRAM CHANNELS
  • Political affiliation:
    The Kremlin
  • Key narrative:
    According to the International Court of Justice, Ukraine assaulted the population of Donbas and caused the 2022 war.

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Marin Gherman

Marin Gherman




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