THE HAGUE (Reuters) – Russia called on the U.N.’s highest court in The Hague on Monday to throw out a case that centres around claims by Moscow that its invasion of Ukraine was carried out to prevent genocide.

The request was made at the start of hearings dealing with the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), also known as the World Court.

Ukraine brought the case just days after the Russian invasion on Feb. 24 last year. Kyiv argues Russia is abusing international law by saying the invasion was justified to prevent an alleged genocide in eastern Ukraine.

Russian officials continue to accuse Ukraine of committinggenocide. On Monday, Russia repeated allegations that the “Russophobic and neo-Nazi regime in Kyiv” was using the 1948 Genocide Convention, to which both countries are a party, as a pretext to “drag” a case before the court.

Russia wants the case to be thrown out and says the court has no jurisdiction. The hearings, set to run until Sept. 27, will not delve into the merits of the case and are instead focused on legal arguments about jurisdiction.

“Ukraine is not accusing Russia of committing genocide. Ukraine is also not accusing Russia of failing to prevent or punish genocide. On the contrary, Ukraine insists no genocide has occurred,” Russia’s agent to the court, Gennady Kuzmin, said in opening remarks.

“That alone should be enough to reject the case. Because according to the court’s jurisprudence, if there was no genocide, there cannot be a violation of the Genocide Convention.”

While Russia has so far ignored the ICJ’s orders to stop itsmilitary actions and the court has no way of enforcing itsdecisions, experts say an eventual ruling in favour of Ukrainecould be important for any future reparations claims.

(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg; Writing by Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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