Mar 16, 2022 - World

UN top court orders Russia to halt military operations in Ukraine

Protesters in front of the ICJ

Ukrainian nationals stand outside the International Criminal Court of Justice on the first day of hearings on March 7 in The Hague. Photo: Michel Porro/Getty Images

The United Nations' International Court of Justice ruled on Wednesday that Russia should immediately suspend its military operations in Ukraine.

Why it matters: This constitutes the first decision by an international court regarding Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. But while rulings by the ICJ are considered binding, the court doesn't have the means to enforce them, per Deutsche Welle.

The big picture: Ukraine's complaint to the ICJ, filed on Feb. 26, accused Russia of illegally attempting to justify the war in Ukraine through false claims of genocide being perpetrated in eastern Ukraine.

  • "The Court is acutely aware of the extent of the human tragedy that is taking place in Ukraine. ... The Court is profoundly concerned about the use of force by the Russian Federation in Ukraine, which raises very serious issues of international law," presiding judge Joan Donoghue wrote in the ruling.
  • Russia "shall immediately suspend the military operations commenced on 24 February 2022 that have as their stated purpose and objective the prevention and punishment of a claimed genocide in the Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts of Ukraine," the ruling stated.

What they're saying: "Ukraine gained a complete victory in its case against Russia at the International Court of Justice. The ICJ ordered to immediately stop the invasion," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted in response to the ruling.

  • "The order is binding under international law. Russia must comply immediately. Ignoring the order will isolate Russia even further," he added.

Go deeper: The latest on the Russia-Ukraine crisis

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