THE HAGUE (Reuters) – Ukraine told the U.N.’s highest court in The Hague on Tuesday that Russia is waging war against it “in the name of a terrible lie” that Moscow was doing so to prevent an alleged genocide.

“The international community adopted the Genocide convention to protect, Russia invokes the Genocide convention to destroy,” turning it on its head, Ukraine’s representative Anton Korynevych told judges.

He called on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) decide it has jurisdiction to hear the case fully and eventually rule that Russia must pay reparations for invading under a false pretext.

On Monday Russia urged the ICJ, also known as the World Court, to throw out the case calling Kyiv’s legal arguments “hopelessly flawed”.

Ukraine brought the case before the ICJ, also known as the World Court, 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.

Ukraine says there was no risk of genocide in eastern Ukraine, where it had been fighting Russian-backed forces since 2014, and that the genocide treaty does not allow an invasion to stop an alleged genocide.

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. The convention defines genocide as crimes committed “with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such”.

(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg)

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