UN Court to Rule on Bid for Order to Russia to Halt Invasion

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) -- The United Nations' top court is set to rule Wednesday on a request by Ukraine for its judges to order Russia to halt its devastating invasion.

But it remains to be seen if Moscow would comply with any order made by the International Court of Justice, or ICJ, which is sometimes known as the World Court.

Russia snubbed a hearing last week at which lawyers for Ukraine accused their powerful neighbor of "resorting to tactics reminiscent of medieval siege warfare" in its brutal assault.

If a nation doesn't abide by an order made by the court, judges could seek action from the U.N. Security Council, where Russia holds veto power.

In the days since the March 7 hearing, Russia has intensified its military strikes on towns and cities across Ukraine hitting civilian infrastructure across the country, including a deadly strike on a maternity hospital in Mariupol, and sending more than 3 million refugees fleeing across borders.

As part of a wider case that could take years to complete at the Hague-based ICJ, Ukraine asked judges to order Russia to "immediately suspend the military operations" launched Feb. 24 "that have as their stated purpose and objective the prevention and punishment of a claimed genocide" in the separatist eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk.

David Zionts, a lawyer in Ukraine's legal team, called that Russian claim "a grotesque lie."

The request for an order to halt Russia's attack is linked to a case Ukraine has filed based on the Genocide Convention, which has a clause allowing nations to take disputes based on its provisions to the World Court.

The success of Ukraine's request will depend on whether the court accepts it has "prima facie jurisdiction" in the case.

Before last week's hearing, the court's president, U.S. judge Joan E. Donoghue, sent a message to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on March 1 pressing home the necessity to act " in such a way as will enable any order the Court may make on the request for provisional measures to have its appropriate effects."