The lawsuits Russia filed with international courts against Ukraine never aimed at establishing justice, rather being a means of protecting the Kremlin in cases they are bound to lose. For Russia, the very process of litigation and the opportunity to get to a judicial rostrum are more important than achieving actual results. So Russia is simply trying to parasitize on international courts.
In July 2021, Russia announced they had filed a complaint vs Ukraine with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The complaint concerns almost all the developments within the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, starting with the Maidan uprising – of course, in the Russian interpretation. The document emphasizes that the ECHR, as per the Kremlin, in accordance with Rule 39 of the Rules of the European Court, should oblige Kyiv "to immediately cease such flagrant violations as blocking fresh water flows to Crimea." On the other hand, in early August, Russia also submitted to the International Court of Justice a counter-memorandum in the “Ukraine v. Russian Federation” case, in which it provides its legal “evidence” of the insolvency of accusations put forward by Ukraine.
As a reminder, in January 2016, Ukraine officially reported to the International Court of Justice that Russia had been violating two UN conventions. And as early as March 2017, the first hearings launched in The Hague, where the court issued the first interim decision: judges declared the claim admissible, i.e. accepted jurisdiction. In June 2018, at a time determined by court, Ukraine sent the ICJ a detailed Memorandum with evidence of Russian crimes. The document is a key part of an interstate claim, in which Kyiv set out evidence of specific facts of Russia’s violations of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and the International Convention on elimination of all forms of racial discrimination.
The charges against Russia include failure to investigate and/or obstruct the supply of funds and weapons to illegal armed groups in eastern Ukraine, which, in turn, have been implicated in a number of terrorist attacks, including the crash of the Malaysian Airlines MH17, the shelling of civilians in Volnovakha, Kramatorsk, Mariupol, and Avdiivka, as well as a number of bombings during mass peaceful rallies in Kharkiv and other cities. In addition, Ukraine has called the Russian Federation to account for the campaign of “cultural destruction” that’s been targeting Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian communities since the onset of occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol. In addition, Russia must testify as to its failure to comply with the interim measures ordered by court more than four years ago, including to remove obstacles to the operations of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis on the territory of the peninsula.
The volume of factual evidence pieces proving Russia’s aggression and crimes was unprecedented. No other interstate dispute has so much evidence been submitted. In addition to the memorandum, Ukraine submitted to the court 28 volumes of evidence, totaling over 17,000 pages.
In November 2019, the ICJ passed a judgment rejecting all of Russia's preliminary objections to the Court's jurisdiction, ruled to consider Ukraine's claims on merits, and, accordingly, obliged Russia to provide explanations on the merits of Ukraine's claims. Thus, Russia became the first state in the entire history of the International Court of Justice, obliged to provide explanations on the merits of the stated claims regarding violations of the two said conventions.
As for the Russian counter-memorandum, its main practical purpose is obvious to experts – that is to postpone the ECHR decision in interstate claims against the Russian Federation and “smooth” their political and legal implications for the invader power. Besides, the very fact of Russia appealing to the International Court of Justice and the ECHR is being actively used by the Kremlin for internal “consumption,” as if to show Russian audiences that for the first time in seven years, not only has Moscow filed a complaint, they are also moving from defense to counteroffensive! Russian occupation authorities in Crimea also said they were drafting another lawsuit against Ukraine "over of the damage caused to the peninsula by the water blockade."
“There is no doubt that all the court will recognize as unfounded all answers and arguments stated by Russia in its counter-memorandum. Ukraine will continue to work out in detail and defend its position in the framework of the ICJ trial,” the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry formally stated. Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba said the resumption of freshwater supplies from the Dnipro River to Crimea would only be possible after the peninsula is deoccupied. At the same time, the UN Monitoring Mission in Ukraine insists that, given the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, Russia bears the main responsibility for the situation in Crimea.