Russia on Tuesday rejected allegations that it sponsors terrorism by funneling arms and money to separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine and is also responsible for discriminating against ethnic groups in Crimea.
Roman Kolodkin, the legal director of Russia's foreign ministry, said that a case filed by Ukraine at the International Court of Justice making the allegations is an attempt to draw the court into ruling on "issues between Ukraine and Russia that are clearly beyond the court's jurisdiction in this case."
The opening of a legal front in the long-running dispute between Moscow and Kiev comes as clashes continue between rebels and Ukrainian forces in conflict-torn eastern Ukraine.
Kiev wants the world court to rule that Russia is breaching treaties on terrorist financing and racial discrimination. Hearings this week are focused on Ukraine's request for the court to issue "provisional measures" including an order for Moscow to halt financing to rebels in eastern Ukraine and to stop discriminating against non-Russians in Crimea.
Lawyers for Russia said that no international organizations monitoring clashes between rebels and Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine have characterized acts such as indiscriminate shelling as terrorism, and added that Ukrainian forces also were responsible for such shelling in rebel-held regions. They also rejected claims that Russia discriminates against Tatars in Crimea, AP reported.
The main case will likely take years to resolve. Judges are expected to take weeks to rule on the request for interim measures.