Mr. Dirken, an American politician from 60s, once said: “A billion here, a billion there, sooner or later it adds up to real money”, writes in his VoxUkraine op-ed Sasha Borovik, a London attorney. Time is now for Ukraine to go for that real money, he suggests.
There is little doubt that behind its peaceniks rhetoric, Russia has been involved in the war on the Ukrainian east. It has been providing military equipment and personnel illegally crossing the Ukrainian border. Scrupulous fact-finders will be able to point to evidences of Russian military planning, command, logistical and other support of the separatists on the East. And then there is no doubt at all that Russia, using its military, had occupied the Crimean peninsula, annexing it from Ukraine in defiance of all international laws.
The war on the East and the annexation of Crimea have been having a deleterious effect on the Ukrainian economy. Ukraine needs to find a mechanism for assessing and claiming civil liability against Russia for all wartime damage. The United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC) may be that mechanism, or at least this should be explored.
The UNCC was created by the United Nations in order to compensate monetarily those injured personally and financially by Iraq’s illegal actions during the Persian Gulf War. In less than nine months, Iraq was found to have caused as much as $300 billion in damages to individuals and entities. Iraq detained, tortured, and killed individuals and destroyed personal, real, and business property, as well as the environment. This is not much different from how Russia and the Russia-supported actions of the separatists are landing on Ukraine and its population. The UNCC may serve as precedent for the imposition of civil liability for wartime damages. The West should work with Ukraine to make sure that the sanctions are lifted, and any normality in the relationships with Russia is reestablished only if Russia agrees to assume civil liability for the damage that it has been causing during its illegal invasions.
Ukraine, in turn, should roll its sleeves and prepare claims, which it may break into six categories—similarly to the ones against Iraq:
(A) claims from individuals forced to flee invaded zones ;
(B) claims from individuals who (or whose family) suffered injuries or death as a result of the invasion;
(C) claims from individuals for business losses, pain and anguish, property damage etc. less than $100,000;
(D) claims from individuals for business losses, pain and anguish, property damage etc. more than $100,000;
(E) claims from companies and other entities for business losses;
(F) governmental and international agencies claims for cost of resettling and providing relief to citizens, claims for damage to government property and to the environment.
The civil society and volunteers ought to take the lead. Methodically, just as a year ago they were bringing old tires and filling bottles with Molotov cocktail, Ukrainians are to collect evidence, help analyzing the claims and sorting them into redwell legal folders — assisting the government with presenting them to the UNCC. And even if the UNCC will turn out not to be the right forum, Ukraine will eventually find the right one, and it should have its evidence well-organized and ready.
The author doesn`t work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have no relevant affiliations