The UN’s highest court, the International Court of Justice, issued an order telling Russia to immediately cease hostilities in Ukraine, saying that the country could suffer irreparable harm from the military invasion.

Hague Court Orders Russia to Halt Invasion of Ukraine

The ICJ hearing on Wednesday. Screenshot:

The International Court of Justice in The Hague, the UN’s highest court, said on Wednesday that Russia must halt its military operations in Ukraine at once, and that both sides in the war should refrain from further escalation.

“The Russian Federation shall immediately suspend the military operations that it commenced on 24 February 2022,” the court’s ruling said.

The judges backed the ruling by 13 to two, with the ICJ’s Russian and Chinese judges dissenting.

Ukraine launched the proceedings against Russia at the ICJ, accusing Moscow of falsely interpreting the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in order to support its argument for an invasion.

Kyiv urged the ICJ to instigate so-called ‘provisional measures’ that would “protect the people of Ukraine by ordering Russia to suspend its senseless military operation, which is based expressly on Russia’s false and absurd claim to be taking action to prevent and punish acts of genocide”.

The ICJ’s decision said that “the court considers that Ukraine has a plausible right not to be subjected to military operations by the Russian Federation for the purpose of preventing and punishing an alleged genocide in the territory of Ukraine”.

The ICJ’s president, judge Joan Donoghue, said that the court made its decision because Ukraine could suffer “irreparable harm”.

“Indeed, any military operation, in particular one on the scale carried out by the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine inevitably causes loss of life, mental and bodily harm and damage to property and the environment,” Donoghue added.

Russia refused to attend the hearings in The Hague and claimed that the court lacks the jurisdiction to hear the case, but the ICJ judges rejected this argument.

Although it appears unlikely that Moscow will comply with the ICJ’s order, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the ruling, calling it a “complete victory”.

At a hearing in the case on March 7, Kyiv argued that Moscow falsely justified its case for the invasion of Ukraine by alleging that it needed to prevent and punish a ‘genocide’ of Russian speakers in the Russian-sponsored eastern rebel territories of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he had “decided to conduct a special military operation” in line with the “treaties of friendship and mutual assistance” that Russia had ratified with the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics two days earlier.

“Its goal is to protect people [in Donetsk and Luhansk] who have been subjected to bullying and genocide by the Kyiv regime for eight years,” Putin alleged, without providing any evidence of genocide.

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