Dutch case against Russia downing of MH-17 flight admissible: court

The European Court of Human Rights ruled that the cases presented before them by Ukraine and the Netherlands against Russia, over human rights violations in the two breakaway regions of Luhansk and Donetsk in Ukraine, and the shooting down of Flight MH-17, were admissible.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he was ”sincerely grateful” to Germany and Chancellor Olaf Scholz for Berlin's “important and timely” decision to provide Kyiv with battle tanks.

The first information about Germany’s decision surfaced on Tuesday evening, given to “Der Spiegel” daily by a source familiar with the matter. Later that evening Christian Dürr, parliamentary leader of the co-governing Free Democrats (FDP), was quoted by the t-online news portal saying:

“Today the Chancellor made a decision that no one took lightly. The fact that Germany will support Ukraine with the Leopard tank is a strong sign of solidarity," Christian Dürr said.”

“This decision follows our well-known line of supporting Ukraine to the best of our ability. We are acting in a closely coordinated manner internationally,” Scholz said in an official statement given on Monday morning.

The announcement emphasised the goal is to speedily establish two battalions with Leopard 2 tanks for Ukraine, with Germany providing 14 Leopard 2 tanks from its own military stocks. The statement further mentioned that training of Ukrainian troops in Germany will begin soon, and that Germany will also provide logistics and ammunition.

Germany is to issue the appropriate transfer permits to partner countries that want to quickly deliver Leopard 2 tanks from their stocks to Ukraine, Scholz concluded.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed Germany's decision, saying in an interview with media outlet “Welt” that they would help Ukraine win against Russia.

“At a critical moment in Russia's war, these tanks can help Ukraine defend itself, win and stand as an independent nation,” he said.

The decision was also welcomed by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Germany’s decision paves the way for other countries such as Poland, Spain and Norway to supply their stocks of Leopard tanks to Ukraine.

Poland has been at the forefront in pushing for Leopard 2 tanks for Ukraine. The Netherlands and Finland have already stated they will send their own Leopards to Ukraine, while other countries, like Norway and Spain for example, have announced they are considering a similar move.

In November, a Dutch court found three men, two Russians and a Ukrainian, guilty of murder in absentia for their part in the downing of MH-17. The court concluded that the missile had been fired deliberately to bring the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 down.

The Kremlin has condemned that verdict as scandalous and politically motivated, and repeatedly denied any involvement in the destruction of the aircraft, even going so far as to accuse Ukrainians of being the guilty party.

The ECHR ruling also opens the doors to at least three other cases by the Ukrainian state against Russia, which had been put on hold pending the decision on jurisdiction.

The two Ukrainian cases, which date from 2014, pertaining to what Kyiv says were administrative practices by Russia in eastern Ukraine in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as the abduction of three groups of Ukrainian orphan children and children without parental care, and a number of adults accompanying them.

All were returned home one day or, in the third case, five days after their abduction, the ECHR said.