London: Ukraine has asked the International Court of Justice in the Hague to declare Russia responsible for the MH17 tragedy, and order it to make "full reparation" for all its victims.
The move appears to be separate to an international bid by countries, including Australia, to take action once a criminal investigation into the shooting down of the Malaysia Airlines plane in 2014 concludes later this year.
National Intelligence Director James Clapper said Russia poses a major and growing threat to US government, military, diplomatic and commercial operations. Senators suggested the President-elect should take notice.
This week Ukraine began proceedings at the ICJ accusing Russia of financing acts of terrorism within Ukraine, in violation of treaties that both countries have signed.
In a wide-ranging application to the court asking it to take up the case, Ukraine accused Russia of "increasing pressure and intimidation" since the Orange Revolution of 2004.
"Since 2014 the Russian Federation has escalated its interference in Ukrainian affairs to dangerous new levels, intervening militarily in Ukraine, financing acts of terrorism, and violating the human rights of millions of Ukraine's citizens, including, for all too many, their right to life," the application to the court said.
It claimed that in eastern Ukraine, the Russian Federation had violated fundamental principles of international law by instigating and sustaining an armed insurrection.
Russia had supplied money and in-kind contributions of weapons and training to "illegal armed groups" in eastern Ukraine, the claim said, requesting that the ICJ "adjudge and declare" that Russia bore international responsibility for the shoot-down of MH17 and the shelling and bombing of civilians.
It asked the court to order that Russia stop these activities immediately and make "full reparation".
Australian Federal Police and their Dutch counterparts searching at the MH17 crash site. Photo: Kate Geraghty
It also accused Russia of seizing Crimea, a part of Ukraine's sovereign territory, by military force, engineering an illegal referendum and running a deliberate campaign of "cultural erasure" against non-Russian groups such as the Tatars.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down in July 2014 over eastern Ukraine.
MH17 was shot down by a Russian-made missile fired from rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine, an investigation has found. Photo: Getty Images
All 298 on board the routine flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, mostly Dutch citizens but including 38 Australian residents, were killed.
Last September an international Joint Investigation Team of investigators gave a preliminary report on the crash, saying the plane was shot down from pro-Russian rebel controlled territory, by a missile that had been recently transported from Russia.
But the investigators, who are compiling a case for possible future criminal prosecutions, stopped short of saying that Russians, or the Russian state, were responsible, saying it was a matter for ongoing investigation.
Ukraine has not been so circumspect.
"Russia must pay its price for the aggression," Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said after Kiev launched the proceedings this week. The president had ordered the foreign ministry to file the suit.
But Moscow, which has long denied arming the separatists in Ukraine, said it was a "political" case.
"Russia has always condemned in the strongest manner any signs of terrorism and actively fights against it," Russia's foreign ministry said.
The ICJ, the principal judicial arm of the United Nations established in 1945, must now decide whether to take up the case.