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ICC issues arrest warrants for Russia's former defence minister, military chief of staff over Ukraine attacks

The International Criminal Court announced on Tuesday that it has issued arrest warrants for Russia’s former defence minister and its military chief of staff, marking the third instance of the court targeting high-ranking Russian officials.

ICC issues arrest warrants for Russia's former defence minister, military chief of staff over Ukraine attacks snt
First Published Jun 25, 2024, 5:30 PM IST

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued arrest warrants for Russia's former Defence Minister, Sergei Shoigu, and its Chief of Staff, General Valery Gerasimov, marking a significant escalation in legal actions against high-ranking Russian officials amidst ongoing international scrutiny of Russia's actions in Ukraine.

The warrants, approved by ICC judges on Monday and announced on Tuesday, accuse Shoigu and Gerasimov of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Specifically, they are alleged to have orchestrated missile strikes by Russian forces targeting Ukraine's electric infrastructure between October 10, 2022, and March 9, 2023. These strikes, according to the ICC, caused extensive damage to civilian objects, including power plants and substations, resulting in severe suffering and casualties among Ukrainian civilians.

The court's decision underscores its belief that these attacks were not proportionate to any military advantage sought, highlighting the extensive civilian harm inflicted. Despite Russia's insistence that its military actions have primarily targeted Ukrainian military facilities, the ICC has found evidence suggesting deliberate and excessive targeting of civilian infrastructure.

Notably, the details of the warrants have been sealed to protect witnesses, reflecting the sensitivity and potential risks associated with the case.

This development follows previous ICC actions targeting senior Russian officials. Last year, a warrant was issued for Russian President Vladimir Putin in connection with alleged abductions of Ukrainian children. In March of this year, warrants were issued for two other high-ranking Russian military officers implicated in attacks on Ukrainian civilian infrastructure.

Russia, however, has consistently rejected the ICC's jurisdiction and does not acknowledge its authority, making the actual arrest and extradition of Shoigu and Gerasimov unlikely. Both individuals remain in prominent roles within Russia's security apparatus despite recent shifts in leadership and internal purges within the Defence Ministry.

Sergei Shoigu, known for his longstanding association with President Putin, was reassigned to the role of secretary of Russia's Security Council earlier this year following his tenure as defence minister. Valery Gerasimov, who has served as chief of the General Staff since 2012, continues to oversee Russian military operations, including those in Ukraine.

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