Ukraine and Russia face off in June at World Court over flight MH17

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Ukraine and Russia will face off before the United Nations’ top court on June 6, when judges will hear Ukraine’s claim that Moscow violated a UN treaty by supporting pro-Russian separatists who were identified by a Dutch court as being responsible for the 2014 downing of flight MH17.

In November last year a Dutch court convicted two Russian men and a Ukrainian national in absentia of murder for their role in the shooting down of Flight MH17 with the loss of 298 passengers and crew, and handed them life sentences.

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Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 departed from Amsterdam and was bound for Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, as fighting raged between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces, the precursor of this year’s conflict.

The Dutch ruling also found that Russia had “overall control” over the forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic in Eastern Ukraine from mid-May 2014.

The International Court of Justice, as the World Court is formally known, has set four days of hearings on June 6, 8, 12 and 14 to hear both sides in the case.

This case, filed in 2017, is one of two Ukraine brought against Russia at the court. The other case, filed just after the 2022 Russian invasion, centers on Moscow’s claim they invaded Ukraine to prevent genocide. It generally takes several years for a case at the ICJ to reach the stage of hearings on the merits of the case.

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