Helping Ukrainian Victims Recover Using United States Courts

On February 24, 2022, Russia began an unprecedented full-scale assault against Ukraine. This conflict was aimed at destroying the country. According to the National Council for the Recovery of Ukraine from the Consequences of the War and the Kyiv School of Economics (KSE), as of January 2023, the total direct documented damage to residential and non-residential real estate as well as other infrastructure exceeded USD 250 billion, while total economic losses are estimated to be USD 900 billion. The battle is still going on, and the number of people killed in it, both directly and indirectly, is steadily climbing. There is no better moment than the present to file lawsuits for war damages, thus the current circumstances and the choices that are accessible are detailed below. There is no better time than the present to file lawsuits for war damages.

When considering filing a lawsuit against a sovereign state in court, the first and most crucial issue to consider is whether or not the state enjoys immunity from legal challenge. This indicates that a sovereign nation cannot be tried in a court of law without the nation’s permission. However, there are a few exceptions, which I will do my best to explain in the paragraphs that follow. Due to Russia’s participation in illegitimate activities, the Supreme Court of Ukraine has set the first precedent indicating that Russia should not be awarded sovereign immunity.

As a result, legal firms and people based in Ukraine are permitted to lodge claims against Russia. “The Supreme Court proceeds from the premise that if the tort exception is applied, any dispute that arose in its territory, and that a citizen of Ukraine has, even with a foreign state, such as Russia, may be heard and decided by a Ukrainian court,” according to the legal conclusion of the Supreme Court of Ukraine (declared in case No. 308/9708/19 on 14 April 2022), Russia lacks immunity from adjudication of tort claims as a result of its armed aggression against Ukraine: “The Supreme Court proceeds from the premise that if the tort exception is applied, any dispute that arose in its territory, and that a citizen of Ukraine has, even with a foreign state, such as Russia, may be heard and decided by a Ukrainian court as a proper and competent court.”

In its resolution dated 18 May 2022 regarding case No. 760/17232/20-ts, the Supreme Court of Ukraine stated that “maintaining Russia’s immunity would be inconsistent with Ukraine’s international law anti-terror obligations” and that “maintaining Russia’s jurisdictional immunity would deprive a claimant of effective access to court for protecting their rights, which is inconsistent with Article 6(1) of the Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.”

Because of the novel approach and conclusions reached by the Supreme Court, Ukraine is the only country in which a damages action can be brought directly against Russia. The claimant, who is required to provide proof of the damages caused, is to obtain a judgment that will be easily recognized and enforceable in Ukraine as well as in other jurisdictions.

Given their active participation in the illegal conflict, claims brought against related private parties such as Wagner (PMC), Total Energies (FR), Prosus/Avito (NL), and banks are also known and accepted. In reality, U.S. In Schansman v. Sberbank of Russia, courts already granted jurisdiction. PJSC, 565 F. Supp. 3d 405 (S.D.N.Y. 2021) to a private party in order to prosecute a Russian Bank for funding Russia’s illegal war against Ukraine and its people. As a result, a New York court determined that entities such as Donetsk People’s Republic are terrorist groups operating in eastern Ukraine that acquired the territory through force and intimidation, which frequently includes torture and murder. Consequently, finding that the DPR is not a military force or nation for purposes of 18 U.S.C. 2331 (4)(B) and (4)(C) and thus granting jurisdiction to sue banks that financed their actions, i.e., the DPR is a terrorist organization that employs intimidation and violence against citizens. Sberbank. The same principle applies to the Wagner ensemble.

Since the question of Russia’s sovereign immunity is no longer an issue, it is now possible to file a claim against a sovereign in Ukraine, as was mentioned earlier. It is crucial that the decisions of Ukrainian courts be recognized and enforceable in other jurisdictions.

The United Nations General Assembly passed a significant resolution on Russian reparations for Ukraine on November 14. The resolution announced the establishment of an international mechanism for compensation for damage, loss, and injury, as well as a register to document evidence and claims ( This resolution will become the premise for the adaptation of national legislation by countries where Russian assets are located and where enforcement of U.N. resolutions will be difficult.

As of right now, Russian assets in Ukraine are being seized in accordance with the Law “On Fundamental Principles of Compulsory Seizure in Ukraine of Property Belonging to the Russian Federation and Its Residents,” but these assets are transferred to the Ukrainian government. Individuals and business proprietors should not anticipate receiving compensation from this pool. In the future, there may be a separate compensation fund established for victims of the invasion.

In addition, customary law (Article 19 of the UN Convention on Jurisdictional Immunities of States and Their Property) places restrictions on the scope of collectible property. According to this norm, enforcement may only be applied to property that is owned by the state (and not, for example, by Russian oligarchs) and used for government commercial purposes (as such, the property of Russian embassies or churches is used for non-commercial purposes, while that of a Russian bank is used for commercial purposes).

The best course of action is to pursue Russia’s frozen assets abroad, with the United States being the best jurisdiction due to its extensive bilateral treaties with Asian and European Union states. This is because it is difficult to locate Russia’s assets in Ukraine and their meager value, which is obviously insufficient for everyone. Given these factors, the best course of action is to pursue Russia’s frozen assets abroad.

Therefore, the most effective course of action that a plaintiff from Ukraine could take would be to file a lawsuit against Russia, Wagner (PMC), Total Energies (FR), and Prosus/Avito (NL) in Ukraine on 14 April 2022 in accordance with 308/9708/19. The judgment will be obtained against all parties jointly and severally liable, and a monetary value will be assigned to the damages.

We will seek an order pursuant to CPLR 3213 and Article 53, granting Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment in lieu of complaint, recognizing foreign country (Ukraine) money judgments entered in various Ukrainian courts against defendant banks, and entering judgment against them in U.S. dollars; awarding the maximum prejudgment and postjudgment interest permitted by law; and awarding Plaintiff’s cost. The judgment will then be enforced and collected in the United States.

The plaintiff will ask for a simple remedy, which is the recognition of money judgments from other countries. Article 53 of the CPLR codifies the Uniform Foreign Country Money-Judgments Recognition Act (the “Recognition Act”), which provides a streamlined procedure to recognize and enforce these judgments. New York courts award summary judgments routinely recognizing international court judgments under the authority of the Recognition Act and the common law doctrine of comity.

A motion for summary judgment in lieu of a complaint can be used to get a foreign money judgment recognized under the Recognition Act. For more information, see CPLR 5303. The standard for summary judgment is well-established, and it should be granted unless there is a genuine issue of material fact that warrants a trial. See Nomura Asset Capital Corporation v. Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, 26 N.Y.3d at page 49 (2015).

A party seeking summary judgment need only “make a prima facie showing of entitlement to judgment as a matter of law, tendering sufficient evidence to eliminate any material issues of fact from the case.” Winegrad v. N.Y.U. Med. Ctr., 64 N.Y.2d 851, 853 (1985). The burden then shifts to the party opposing summary judgment “to present opposing evidence in admissible form sufficient to demonstrate the existence of a triable issue of fact.” “Mere conclusory assertions, devoid of evidentiary facts, are insufficient to defeat a well-supported summary judgment motion.” Smith v. Cohen, 24 A.D.3d 183, 183 (1st Dep’t 2005) (citations and alterations omitted). Andre v. Pomeroy, 35 N.Y.2d 361, 364 (1974): “an unfounded reluctance to employ [summary judgment] will only serve to swell the Trial Calendar and deny other litigants the right to have their claims promptly adjudicated.” In fact, summary judgment “does not deprive the parties of a trial; it merely establishes that there is nothing to try.” Suffolk Cnty. v. James M., 83 N.Y.2d 178, 182 (1994). Thus, “[w]hen properly employed, summary judgment is an extremely useful tool for expediting the just resolution of a legal dispute for all parties and conserving already strained judicial resources.”

Other than the mandatory grounds for non-recognition listed in CPLR 5304 (a), which are due process and personal jurisdiction, the burden is on the defendant bank to establish any defenses to recognition. See CIBC Mellon Trust Company vs. Mora Hotel Corporation. N.V., 296 A.D.2d 81, 97 (1st Dep’t 2002). There are very few grounds for denying recognition of a foreign money judgment.

Given the limited defenses and the ease with which they can be determined as a matter of law, this court ought to issue summary judgment and recognize the foreign decision because none of them are applicable.

This court is required by the Recognition Act to recognize judgments issued by other countries. Under the Recognition Act, a judgment creditor may file a petition for summary judgment in lieu of a complaint in order to enforce a foreign court money judgment that is final, conclusive, and enforceable in the jurisdiction where it was rendered. See CPLR 5302 and 5303; Hill Dickinson LLP, 149 A.D.3d at 471 and 472; CPLR 5302 and 5303. This relief

By enforcing the Foreign Judgments in this jurisdiction, “the judgment creditor does not seek any new relief against the judgment debtor.” Id. Rather, a judgment creditor “simply asks the court to perform its ministerial function of recognizing the foreign country money judgment.” John Galliano, S.A.: “New York has historically been a generous venue for enforcing judgments for monetary damages rendered by foreign courts.” 15 N.Y.3d 75,

In addition to displaying respect for foreign courts, recognizing foreign judgments serves a practical interest. As a result, after the requirements of the Recognition Act have been completed, a judgment that “is not otherwise repugnant to our notion of fairness… … be enforced in New York in accordance with well-established comity principles without conducting a full investigation into the action that is at issue.”

Batbrothers LLC v. Paushok, 172 A.D.3d 529, 529 (1st Dep’t 2019). of New York judgments overseas by ensuring foreign jurisdictions that their judgments would receive streamlined enforcement here. The goal of streamlined enforcement of foreign judgments is to promote efficient enforcement. of New York judgments abroad.

Personal jurisdiction is the only possible defense that makes sense, but this will still be a difficult obstacle to overcome. The defendants in this case are the Russian state-owned banks Sberbank and VTB Bank. The fundamental claim made by the plaintiffs is that the defendants provided material support and financing for a terrorist operation, invasion, and/or illegal military operation, which destroyed the plaintiff’s property.

As a result of the fact that Russian military and paramilitary forces have openly, publicly, and repeatedly carried out terrorist attacks against civilians and that these attacks were widely reported and discussed by nearly every government, media outlet, and human rights organization in the world, the defendants were aware of the terrorist activities carried out by the Russian military and paramilitary forces.

Schansman v. Russian Sberbank. PJSC, 565 F. Supp. 3d 405 (S.D.N.Y. 2021) VTB Bank and Sberbank will contend that the action fails to establish personal jurisdiction because the conduct occurred in Ukraine and the plaintiffs have not established that the two banks conducted business in New York. The Court should not concur with this argument.

Licci v. Lebanese Canadian Bank, SAL, 732 F.3d 161, 168 (2d Cir. 2013) (Licci II) states that in order for the court to determine personal jurisdiction, it must “look to the law of the forum state to determine whether personal jurisdiction will lie” and, if jurisdiction exists, it must “consider whether the district court’s exercise of personal jurisdiction over a foreign defendant comports with due process safeguards established by the United States Constitution.” who either directly or through an intermediary… contracts anywhere to supply goods or services in the state.” C.P.L.R. 302(a)(1). “transacts any business within the state or contracts anywhere to supply goods or services in the state.”

This requirement may be satisfied by a single transaction if the relevant claims derive from that transaction. Bank Brussels Lambert v. Fiddler Gonzalez & Rodriguez, 171 F.3d 779, 787 (2d Cir. 1999). In order to exercise specific jurisdiction over a defendant in a manner that is consistent with the defendant’s due process rights, “the defendant’s suit-related conduct must create a substantial connection with the forum State.” Waldman v. Palestine Liberation Organization, 835 F.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has decided that “the selection and repeated use of New York’s banking system, as an instrument for accomplishing the alleged wrongs” under the ATA is sufficient to subject a bank to the specific jurisdiction of a district court in New York. This decision was made in the case Licci II, 732 F.3d at 171. In Licci II, the court determined that specific jurisdiction was appropriate when a bank “deliberately chose to process… telegraphic transfers… despite the fact that “[i]n light of the widespread acceptance and availability of U.S. cash, [the bank] could have… handled wire transfers that were denominated in U.S. dollars… by means of correspondent accounts maintained virtually anywhere in the world.”

When transfers made through New York are “part of that allegedly unlawful conduct, the Court may exercise jurisdiction over claims made in connection with all [relevant] attacks” (Strauss II, at 24), the Court may exercise jurisdiction over all related claims. “The repeated use of a correspondent account in New York by a foreign bank on behalf of a client demonstrates a course of dealing with New York’s reliable and transparent banking system,” according to Strauss II. “The dollar as a stable and widely accepted international currency”

Sanctions against the financial institutions in question. Once the judgment is rendered, the plaintiff may seek to enforce it against the frozen assets that are currently held in special trust accounts managed by the United States Treasury. The assets are located in the United States and remain frozen; we will use the judgment to partially unfreeze them.

This kind of compensation will help the survivors rebuild, and it will hold the offenders accountable for their acts. Although no amount of money can bring back the victims or make up for the devastation of a nation, this method of compensation will help the survivors rebuild.

About the Author:

International legal consultant and jurist,  Artem Dymskoy was born in Moscow in the family of a journalist-literary translator and a guide-interpreter. Dymskoy is fluent in Russian, English, and French and is learning Hebrew, as he is living in Israel due to his civil position on the present state of Russia’s political climate. Mr. Dymskoy entered the Kutafin Moscow State Law University. He graduated with honors and, as the top graduate trainee, received an assignment for a year internship in London – in the head office of Frere Cholmeley Bischoff. After a year of internship in London, Dymskoy Artem returned to Russia and joined the Moscow City Bar.

While in Russia Dymskoy has worked as the main legal adviser of the Urals Regional Venture Fund and the West Siberian Venture Fund of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, worked on various EBRD projects, and worked as a lawyer/ legal consultant for the independent law firm Burchills with which he has been a partner since 2003.

Since 2018, Artem Dymskoy has acted as the primary representative of Burchills in Israel and is engaged in legal support for obtaining Israeli citizenship for Russian citizens and leading investment projects in IT and real estate transactions and consulting international firms on litigation and recovery for losses sustained in Russia or as a result of Russian actors.

Due to his tremendous experience, international lawyer and legal consultant Dymskoy is known in Russia and abroad. He is one of the most mentioned lawyers in the media and is sought after for legal assistance and counsel. Artem is a speaker at the leading specialized forums and conferences, a legal analyst and law review editor. Dymskoy is an active social activist – he is engaged in journalism and is the author of legal articles. Recently, Artem directed his efforts to consult Ukrainian victims in their efforts to seek compensation for damages sustained as a result of Ukrainian aggression.

Author: Artem Dymskoy
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