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ICC issues arrest warrants for Russian army chief, former defence minister | Russia-Ukraine war News

ICC issues arrest warrants for Russian army chief, former defence minister | Russia-Ukraine war News

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Court accuses them of war crimes and crimes against humanity for directing attacks on civilian targets in Ukraine.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued arrest warrants for Russia’s former defence minister and its military chief for attacking civilian targets in Ukraine.

The Hague-based court said in a statement on Tuesday that warrants were issued because judges considered there were reasonable grounds to believe that the men were responsible for “missile strikes carried out by the Russian armed forces against the Ukrainian electric infrastructure” from October 10, 2022, until at least March 9, 2023.

The ICC accused former Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and General Valery Gerasimov of war crimes and the crime against humanity of inhumane acts.

“During this time-frame, a large number of strikes against numerous electric power plants and sub-stations were carried out by the Russian armed forces in multiple locations in Ukraine,” the court statement said.

The judges “found that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the alleged strikes were directed against civilian objects”, it added.

“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,” it added.

Russia has repeatedly said Ukraine’s energy infrastructure is a legitimate military target and denies targeting civilians or civilian infrastructure.

Warrant for Putin

Last year, the court also issued a warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of personal responsibility for the abductions of children from Ukraine.

In March this year, the court issued arrest warrants for two high-ranking Russian military officers on charges linked to attacks on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine that judges said happened “pursuant to a state policy”.

Reporting from Amsterdam, Al Jazeera’s Step Vassen said the court’s announcement was unexpected as there was no indication earlier that the arrest warrants in question were requested.

“This means all the countries they [the two Russian officials] will travel to that signed the Rome Statue will have to arrest them and bring them to The Hague,” she said, adding that the officials would avoid the countries which are party to the treaty.

Russia is not a member of the court, does not recognise its jurisdiction and refuses to hand over suspects.

Putin replaced Shoigu as defence minister in a cabinet shake-up in May as he began his fifth term as president. He appointed Shoigu as secretary of Russia’s Security Council.

The Security Council said on Tuesday that the ICC’s arrest warrant for Shoigu was part of a hybrid war against Moscow, the state-run news agency TASS reported.

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