U.S. law firm Covington has been hired by the Ukrainian government to represent the country in a lawsuit it has filed against Russia at the Hague-based International Court of Justice following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Ukraine announced on Sunday that it would ask the U.N.’s highest court to find that Russia has no lawful basis to invade Ukraine under U.N. law. Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed that the country’s invasion of Ukraine was justified to end the genocide it alleges Ukraine has committed in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine has rejected Moscow’s claim.
Ukraine is asking the 15-member international Court of Justice to adopt interim measures ordering Russia to immediately cease its military operations in the country. It also accused Russia of planning acts of genocide.
Covington has represented Ukraine in proceedings against Russia before several courts in the past. It is representing Ukraine in a case pending before the International Court of Justice related to Russia’s alleged violations of international law in the Donbas region and in Crimea since 2014. It also represented Ukraine in a case before a special tribunal in a case related to Russia’s detention of three Ukrainian naval vessels and 24 servicemen in 2018.
The Hague court will hold a hearing on Ukraine’s injunction request on March 6. A judgment on the broader merits of the case could take several years, according to a source close to the firm.
The International Court of Justice in The Hague is the United Nations’ court for settling disputes between U.N. member countries. Orders by the International Court of Justice are legally binding, but the court does not have any enforcement powers.
Ukraine isn’t the only country appealing to The Hague. On Tuesday, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said Canada will petition the International Criminal Court to probe alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Russian military in Ukraine. Her statement follows an announcement Monday from ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan that he has “decided to proceed with opening an investigation into the situation in Ukraine, as rapidly as possible.”
Gail J. Cohen contributed to this story.