International Criminal Court issues arrest warrants for Russia's Shoigu and Gerasimov


  • World
  • Tuesday, 25 Jun 2024

FILE PHOTO: Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff of Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov attend a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia February 27, 2022. Sputnik/Aleksey Nikolskyi/Kremlin via REUTERS/File Photo

THE HAGUE (Reuters) - The International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Sergei Shoigu, the former Russian defence minister, and leading Russian general Valery Gerasimov on Tuesday for alleged crimes committed during Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Shoigu was removed from his post of defence minister last month, and appointed Secretary of Russia's powerful Security Council, in the most significant changes Russian President Vladimir Putin made to his military command since the start of the war in 2022.

The Hague-based court said Shoigu and Gerasimov were suspected of having committed war crimes and crimes against humanity for directing attacks against civilians and civilian objects in Ukraine.

Judges had found there were "reasonable grounds to believe that the two suspects bear responsibility for missile strikes carried out by the Russian armed forces against the Ukrainian electric infrastructure from at least 10 October 2022 until at least 9 March 2023", the ICC said in a press release.

Russia, which is not a member of the ICC, has repeatedly said Ukraine's energy infrastructure is a legitimate military target and denies targeting civilians or civilian infrastructure.

Ukraine is also not a member, but has granted the ICC jurisdiction to prosecute crimes committed on its territory.

The warrants for Shoigu and Gerasimov bring the total of arrest warrants issued against senior Russian suspects since the beginning of the invasion to eight. These include Putin, suspected of a war crime over the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia.

The tribunal has no police force of its own and relies on member states to make arrests.

During the timeframe mentioned in the latest warrants Russia is suspected of having carried out strikes against numerous electric power plants and sub-stations all over Ukraine.

According to ICC judges, there were reasonable ground to believe the strikes targeted mostly civilian objects "and for those installations that may have qualified as military objectives at the relevant time, the expected incidental civilian harm and damage would have been clearly excessive to the anticipated military advantage", making the attacks war crimes.

(This story has been refiled to correct the grammar in the headline)

(Reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten and Stephanie Van den Berg; Editing by Alison Williams and Alex Richardson)

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