International Criminal Court issues war crimes arrest warrants for Russia’s military chiefs SHOIGU and GERASIMOV

Wednesday, June 26, 2024 - The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant for former Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and the Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov for alleged international crimes, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The court said Tuesday, June 25 that the pair were allegedly responsible for two war crimes: directing attacks at civilian objects and causing excessive incidental harm to civilians or damage to civilian objects. They are also accused of committing crimes against humanity.

Ukrainian officials welcomed the announcement on Tuesday. President Volodymyr Zelensky said the decision shows that “no military rank or cabinet door can shield Russian criminals from accountability.”

Ukraine's human rights leader, Dmytro Lubinets said the ICC decision meant Ukraine was a step closer to getting justice.

“Sooner or later, a just punishment will overtake every war criminal!” he said in a statement posted on his Telegram.

Russian state news agency TASS quoted the Security Council of Russia, the government body currently headed by Shoigu, as calling the ICC decision “null and void.”

“It is meaningless, as the ICC’s jurisdiction does not extend to Russia, and [the decision] was made within the framework of the West’s hybrid war against our country,” TASS quoted the body as saying.

The two warrants bring the total number of top Russian officials wanted for war crimes to four as the ICC has previously issued arrest warrants for President Vladimir Putin and Russian official Maria Lvova-Belova for an alleged scheme to deport Ukrainian children to Russia.

Shoigu, a long-time close ally of Putin, was the country’s defense minister for 12 years.

The arrest warrants put Shoigu and Gerasimov on the ICC’s wanted list, although they might never stand trial.

The court does not conduct trials in absentia and it is unlikely they would be handed over by Moscow.

Located in The Hague, Netherlands, and created by a treaty called the Rome Statute, the ICC operates independently.

124 countries are parties to the treaty but the US, Russia and Ukraine are not.

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