The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague was due on March 6 to hear Ukraine's case seeking a legal halt to Moscow's support for pro-Russian rebels in Donbas and Crimea.
Rulings of the United Nations' highest court, whose judges hear disputes between states, are final and binding, but the ICJ has no means of enforcing them. In view of Russia's defiance of international condemnation of its actions in Ukraine since 2014, a subsequent ruling is likely to have little effect on Moscow.
Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in March 2014 and later that year began to provide support for separatists in the eastern Donbas region. Ukraine accuses Russia of supporting terrorist groups in East Ukraine and Crimea in violation of UN conventions against terrorism.
However, Moscow has denied any official involvement in East Ukraine and said it "intends to employ all possible means of legal defence" in the ICJ case.
A senior Russian official was quoted by state news agency TASS as saying that the Russian delegation in The Hague will include 35 people.
On March 6-9, the first round of hearings, mostly consisting of procedural matters, is to run.
Following a short armed conflict between Russia and Georgia in August 2008, the Caucasus republic brought a similar case against its larger neighbour. But ICJ ruled in 2011 that it had no jurisdiction, an argument that Russia may use this time, too, according to observers.
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