ICC issues arrest warrants for two senior Russian security officials

The International Criminal Court on Tuesday Arrest warrants issued for two senior Russian security officials It was a symbolic but scathing condemnation of the Kremlin’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine over attacks on civilian targets.

The Hague-based tribunal charged that Russia’s top military officer, Gen. Valery V. Gerasimov, and Sergei K. Shoigu, a senior member of the country’s Security Council, led an offensive operation against a Ukrainian power plant in winter 2022.

“The anticipated incidental civilian casualties and damage would have clearly outweighed the anticipated military advantage,” the court said in a statement on Tuesday. The court issued the warrant on Monday.

Russia’s Security Council condemned the warrant, calling it a “pathetic” example of “the West’s hybrid war against our country,” according to comments provided to Moscow’s Interfax news agency. Russia, like the United States, is not a party to the tribunal.

While no one expected Russian commanders to appear before The Hague anytime soon, Ukrainians praised the tribunal’s actions. Ukraine’s Chief Prosecutor Andriy Kostin called the decision “another important step toward holding the aggressors fully accountable.” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the tribunal’s decision “clearly demonstrates that justice for Russia’s crimes against the Ukrainian people is inevitable.”

Gen. Gerasimov, who until recently served as Russia’s defense minister, and Mr. Shoigu are longtime loyalists of President Vladimir V. Putin and were among the architects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Their ambitious plans to capture the Ukrainian capital in a matter of days failed spectacularly at the start of the war, which began in February 2022. They then tried to defeat Ukraine in what became a bitter war of attrition, at the cost of the lives of at least tens of thousands of Russian soldiers.

They have also sought to subjugate Ukraine by strangling its economy, including coordinated attacks on its energy infrastructure during the coldest months of the year.

The operation has caused widespread human suffering across Ukraine, with more than 5.4 million Ukrainians internally displaced and more than 8.1 million Ukrainians fleeing as refugees to neighboring European countries, according to a recent report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

UN investigators found serious and widespread human rights violations against Ukrainian civilians that in many cases may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In recent months, as Ukraine’s Western-provided air defense systems run short, Russia has stepped up attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, halving the country’s generating capacity. Millions of people now face rolling blackouts every day, providing only a few hours of electricity, and raising serious concerns about the country’s ability to recover in time for winter.

As of the end of May, the energy sector had suffered damages and losses totalling $56.5 billion as a result of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. According to a study A report by the Kyiv University of Economics, which includes $16.1 billion in direct damages from attacks on power generation and transmission facilities and oil and gas infrastructure.

“Unfortunately, we have to deal with the reality that attacks are likely to continue,” he said, “and we need to be prepared and restore as much power generation as possible before winter arrives.”

Despite Russia’s poor performance early in the war, Putin kept General Gerasimov and Mr. Shoigu on the front lines of the war for the first two years of the invasion.

General Gerasimov, who serves as head of Russia’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, was promoted to commander of Russian forces in Ukraine in January 2023, a position he still holds today.

But Shoigu was eventually ousted in a Cabinet reshuffle after Putin won a formal re-election last month.

Several of Shoigu’s successors were detained on corruption-related charges or lost their jobs in a subsequent purge of the defence ministry that was widely seen as an indirect rebuke from the Kremlin to Shoigu’s war achievements.

Shoigu served as Russia’s defense minister for 12 years, making him one of President Putin’s longest-serving cabinet members. After being fired from that post, Shoigu took a low-profile role on Russia’s defense advisory body, the Security Council.

General Gerasimov and Shoigu are the latest Russian officials to be indicted by the court, which issued arrest warrants last year for allegedly holding Putin and Russia’s ombudsman for children’s rights personally criminally responsible for the abduction and deportation of Ukrainian children following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

“No individual, anywhere in the world, should feel they can act with impunity,” said Karim Khan, the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor. statement.

But Russia has not recognized the arrest warrant or the jurisdiction of the court, and denies having committed war crimes, making it highly unlikely that Shoigu or General Gerasimov will be detained in the near future.

Marlise Simmons and Ivan Necheplenko Contributed report.

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