International Criminal Court issues arrest warrants against former Russian Defense Minister and Chief of General Staff

The International Criminal Court (CPI) announced this Tuesday that it had issued arrest warrants against the head of the Russian General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, and the former Minister of Defense, Sergei Shoigu.

Both are suspected of responsibility for war crimes, consisting of directing attacks against civilian objects and causing excessive harm to the civilian population, as well as the commission of “inhuman acts” in Ukraine, defined in Rome Statutethe ICC said in a statement.

Putin and Sergei Shoigu, in 2017. Photo: Alexey NIKOLSKY /AFP

The Rome Statute is an international treaty that establishes the creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the first permanent court charged with trying individuals for crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. It was adopted in 1998 and came into force in 2002.

The charges

The charges cover war crimes and crimes against humanity and were committed between October 2022 and March 2023 during the invasion of Ukraine.

The ICC prosecutor, Karim Khan, asked the Chamber to approve these arrest warrants, in which he accuses Shoigu and Gerasimov of being alleged “criminally responsible” for having committed these criminal acts, ordering their commission and/or or failing to exercise adequate control over the forces under his command to prevent the commission of those crimes.

Sergei Shoigu. Photo: Reuters

“There are reasonable grounds to believe that the two suspects are responsible for the missile attacks carried out by the Russian armed forces against Ukrainian electrical infrastructure from at least October 10, 2022 to at least March 9, 2023,” said the three judges that make up the Preliminary Chamber.

During that period, the Russian armed forces carried out “a large number of attacks against numerous electrical power plants and substations in multiple locations” in Ukraine.

The Chamber also sees “reasonable grounds” to believe that “the alleged attacks were directed against civilian objects, and that for those facilities that could have qualified as military objectives at the relevant time, the expected collateral damage to civilians and civilian objects would have clearly been excessive compared to the anticipated military advantage.”

Valery Gerasimov. Photo: ReutersValery Gerasimov. Photo: Reuters

Furthermore, he denounced that “the alleged campaign of attacks constitutes a course of conduct that involves the multiple commission of acts against a civilian population, carried out in accordance with state policy,” which leads one to believe that the suspects “intentionally caused great suffering or serious injuries to the body or mental or physical health, thus being criminally responsible for the crime against humanity.”

Although the content of the orders is issued as “secret” to protect witnesses and safeguard ongoing investigations, The Chamber did authorize publicly disclosing the existence of these arrest warrantsas well as the name of the suspects and the crimes of which they are accused.

Arrest warrant against Putin

These two arrest warrants are not the first that the ICC has issued in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine since February 2022. Last March, The arrest of two Russian soldiers was orderedRussian Armed Forces Lieutenant General Sergey Kobylash, and Russian Navy Admiral Viktor Sokolov.

A year before, The ICC ordered the arrest of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian politician Maria Lvova-Belova, Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights in Russia, for the illegal deportation of Ukrainian minors and their transfer from occupied areas in Ukraine to Russia, a war crime according to the Rome Statute.

The arrest warrant against Putin, which cannot be made effective (Moscow does not recognize the Court) Unless the Russian president travels to a member country of the ICC and it agrees to detain him and send him to The Hague – with the consequent risk of confrontation with Russia -, he has no practical option beyond altering Putin’s already limited travel agenda.

With information from AFP and EFE

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