The European Court of Human Rights said cases brought 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.
The decision is procedural and does not rule on the merits of the cases, but it does show the Strasbourg-based court considers Russia can be held liable for alleged human rights violations in the separatist regions.
“Among other things, the Court found that areas in eastern Ukraine in separatist hands were, from 11 May 2014 and up to at least 26 January 2022, under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation,” the court said in a ruling on Wednesday.
The cases will now move on to the merits stage, expected take another one to two years before a final decision is issued.
The ECHR ruling 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 Netherlands filed its case with the ECHR in 2020, saying the shooting down of Flight MH17 over territory in eastern Ukraine held by Russian-backed separatists breached the European Convention on Human Rights.
Moscow has repeatedly denied any involvement in the destruction of the aircraft as fighting raged between the separatists and Ukrainian government forces.
The two Ukrainian cases, which date from 2014, pertain 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.