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Ukraine takes Russia to UN court over rebel funding, Crimea

Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Olena Zerkal (left) spoke Monday at the International Court of Justice.Peter Dejong/Associated Press

THE HAGUE — Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister on Monday accused Russia of financing terrorism by shipping arms, ammunition, and funds to separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine and of discriminating against non-Russians in the annexed Crimean Peninsula.

The charges came as a case between Kiev and Moscow opened at the UN’s highest judicial organ.

The International Court of Justice case, which also seeks reparations for the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, opens a new legal front in the bitter, drawn-out conflict between Russia and its neighbor Ukraine.

‘‘This case will send a message about whether the international legal order can stand up to powerful countries that disregard law and disrespect human rights,’’ Kiev’s deputy foreign minister, Olena Zerkal, told the 16-judge world court panel.

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The Amsterdam-to-Kuala Lumpur Flight MH17 was shot down on July 17, 2014, by a Buk surface-to-air missile over conflict-torn eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.

The main case, in which Ukraine is asking the court to rule that Russia is breaching treaties on terrorist financing and racial discrimination, is likely to take months or years to resolve. But judges probably will take just weeks to rule on whether to grant the provisional measures sought by Kiev at the hearing Monday.

They include an order to halt financing to rebels in eastern Ukraine and to stop discriminating against non-Russians in Crimea.

Associated Press