The UN's top court on Wednesday rejected a bid by Ukraine for emergency measures to halt Russia's alleged funnelling of money and arms into Ukraine's war-torn east, but warned Moscow to protect ethnic rights in Crimea.
The complicated interim ruling by 16 judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague came as the conflict in eastern Ukraine enters its fourth year.
Both parties shall refrain from any action which might aggravate or extend the dispute before the court or make it more difficult to resolve — ICJ
More than 10,000 people have died in the fighting between pro-Moscow rebels and Ukrainian government forces since it erupted after the ouster of a Kremlin-backed regime in capital Kiev in February 2014.
Seeking to bring stability to its east, Ukraine had sought an urgent interim court order demanding Russia refrain from "any action which might aggravate or extend the dispute" such as allegedly pumping money, weapons, equipment and personnel to the rebels.
It urged the tribunal to order Moscow to control its borders with eastern Ukraine and halt racial discrimination — particularly against Tatars — in Crimea, which Russia annexed in March 2014.
— CIJ_ICJ (@CIJ_ICJ) April 19, 2017
Court demands evidence
But the judges found that so far Kiev "has not put before the court evidence which affords a sufficient basis" to show that any funds from Moscow were used "to cause death or serious bodily harm to a civilian."
However, they did agree with a second Ukrainian request to stop what Kiev called "racial discrimination" against minority groups in the Russian-annexed Crimea peninsula.
"The court is of the opinion that Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians in Crimea appear to remain vulnerable," said presiding judge Ronny Abraham, saying the court believed there was "an imminent risk" of "irreparable prejudice to the rights invoked by Ukraine."
Moscow must refrain from maintaining or imposing limitations on the ability of the Crimean Tatar community to conserve its representative institutions — ICJ
Russia questions court's jurisdiction
Moscow has strongly denied Kiev's terrorism claims, saying they were "neither factual nor legal" and argued that the ICJ does not have jurisdiction over the case.
The conflict has pushed ties between Moscow and the West to their lowest point since the Cold War.
The ICJ, which was set up in 1945 to settle disputes between countries in line with international law, has yet to decide whether it will take up the main case lodged by Kiev in January this year.