ICC issues arrest warrants for Shoigu and Gerasimov

ICC issues arrest warrants for Shoigu and Gerasimov

Russia does not recognize the international body’s jurisdiction and has dismissed its latest move as part of a Western hybrid war

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued arrest warrants for former Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and the country’s current chief of the General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, citing alleged war crimes committed during the Ukraine conflict. Moscow has previously dismissed similar accusations, stressing that it does not recognize the international body’s jurisdiction.

Shoigu served as Russian defense minister between 2012 to 2024, a period which included the first two years of the ongoing hostilities with Kiev. President Vladimir Putin replaced him last month with Andrey Belousov, reassigning Shoigu to the role of secretary of the Security Council. Gerasimov has occupied his post since 2012, and has also played a pivotal role in Moscow’s military action against Ukraine.

In a press release on Tuesday, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber II claimed that the alleged crimes by the two top-ranking officials were committed between October 2022 and March 2023. According to the statement, Shoigu and Gerasimov are both “allegedly responsible for the war crime of directing attacks at civilian objects and the war crime of causing excessive incidental harm to civilians or damage to civilian objects, and the crime against humanity of inhumane acts.” The Hague-based court further claimed that “there are reasonable grounds to believe they bear individual criminal responsibility.”

Among other accusations, the ICC singled out Russian strikes targeting Ukrainian power plants.

According to ICC judges, “the key factual allegations are duly supported by evidence and other relevant material submitted… by the Prosecution.”

Commenting on the ICC’s decision, the press office of the Russian Security Council characterized the warrants as null and void, pointing out that Moscow is not a signatory to the 1998 Rome Statute. Officials clarified that the court’s jurisdiction does not apply to Russia, dismissing its latest move as part of the “West’s hybrid war against our country.”

In March 2023, the international body issued arrest warrants for President Putin and the country’s commissioner for Children’s Rights, Maria Lvova-Belova. The ICC Pre-Trial Chamber had agreed with allegations put forward by court prosecutor Karim Khan. The latter argued at the time that both Russian officials “bear criminal responsibility for the unlawful deportation and transfer of Ukrainian children from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.”

Responding to the warrants, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at the time that the documents had “no meaning for Russia.”

In addition to Russia, nations such as the US, China, India, and Israel also do not recognize the ICC’s jurisdiction, although 124 countries are signatories to the Rome Statute.

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