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Breaking: International Criminal Court issues arrest warrants for Russia's Shoigu, Gerasimov

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk June 25, 2024 2:05 PM  (Updated: ) 2 min read
Secretary of the Security Council Sergei Shoigu (R) and Russia's Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov in Moscow on December 19, 2023. (Photo by Mikhail Klimintyev/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)
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The International Criminal Court (ICC) announced on June 25 that it has issued arrest warrants for Sergei Shoigu, secretary of Russia's Security Council, and Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff of the Russian army, for war crimes against Ukraine.

Shoigu served as Russia's Defense Minister at the time of the alleged crimes. Shoigu was replaced in May by Andrei Belousov, a former economy minister with no previous military experience, after serving as defense minister since 2012.

Shoigu and Gerasimov are charged with the war crimes of "directing attacks at civilian objects," "causing excessive incidental harm to civilians or damage to civilian objects," and the "crime against humanity of inhumane acts."

The charges relate to Russian strikes on Ukraine's energy infrastructure between October 2022 and March 2023, the ICC said.

The court found that "there are reasonable grounds to believe that the alleged strikes were directed against civilian objects."

While the energy infrastructure "may have qualified as military objectives at the relevant time," the ICC said that "the expected incidental civilian harm and damage would have been clearly excessive to the anticipated military advantage."

"Every criminal involved in the planning and execution of these strikes must know that justice will be served. And we do hope to see them behind bars," President Volodymyr Zelensky reacted on X.

The ICC's decision "clearly demonstrates that no military rank or cabinet door can shield Russian criminals from accountability," Zelensky said.

The charges against Shoigu and Gerasimov follow similar arrest warrants issued against two lower-ranking Russian commanders deemed allegedly responsible for carrying out strikes on Ukraine's electrical infrastructure during the same time period.

Lieutenant General Sergei Kobylash and Admiral Viktor Sokolov "are each allegedly responsible" for a number of war crimes, including "directing attacks at civilian objects," the ICC said in March 2024.

Russia launched 84 missiles and 24 kamikaze drones at Ukraine on Oct. 10, 2022, the first of a long series of devastating attacks targeting the country’s critical infrastructure through the winter.

By the end of the winter, the strikes had caused an estimated $10 billion in damages across Ukraine and left 12 million people with no or limited access to power, according to the United Nations Development Program.

Energy workers battled to repair the infrastructure as quickly as possible, with 22 out of 36 of Ukraine's power generation plants damaged or destroyed.

The ICC also previously issued arrest warrants in March 2023 for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, the Presidential Commissioner for Children's Rights, for the forcible transfer of children from Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine.

Russia withdrew from the ICC in 2016 following its criticism of Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea.

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