The International Criminal Court issues arrest warrants for 2 senior Russian security officials

The International Criminal Court said Tuesday it had issued arrest warrants for two senior Russian security officials for attacks on civilian targets, sharply condemning, if largely symbolic, the Kremlin's invasion of neighboring Ukraine.

The Hague court accused Russia's top military officer, General Valery V. Gerasimov, and a senior member of the country's Security Council, Sergei K. Shoigu, of directing a campaign of attacks against Ukrainian power plants in winter of 2022.

“The anticipated civilian harm and incidental damage would clearly have been excessive compared to the anticipated military benefit,” the court said in a statement Tuesday, referring to the attacks. He issued the warrants Monday.

Russia's Security Council denounced the mandates, calling them “pathetic” examples of “the West's hybrid war against our country,” according to comments provided to the Moscow-based Interfax news agency.

Ukrainians applauded the Court's actions, although few expected to see Russian military commanders in the dock in The Hague any time soon. Andriy Kostin, Ukraine's chief prosecutor, called the decision “another significant step towards full responsibility of the attacker.”

Andriy Yermak, head of the Ukrainian president's office, said this shows that those “responsible for evil” will face consequences.

General Gerasimov and Shoigu, who until recently served as Russia's defense minister, are longtime loyalists of President Vladimir V. Putin and are considered the architects of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Their ambitious plans to capture Ukraine's capital within days at the start of the war failed spectacularly, at the cost of at least tens of thousands of Russian soldier lives, miring the two nations in a war of attrition.

The failure of the initial push led the Russian military to attempt to subjugate Ukraine by strangling its economy, a campaign that involved systematic attacks on energy infrastructure during the coldest months of the year.

Despite Russia's faltering initial performance in the war, Putin kept General Gerasimov and Shoigu at the forefront of the war effort for the first two years of the invasion.

General Gerasimov, who serves as head of the Russian equivalent of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was promoted to lead Russian forces in Ukraine in January 2023, a position he still holds today.

Shoigu, however, was ultimately fired in a cabinet reshuffle that Putin pushed through last month after winning a rubber-stamp re-election.

Several of Shoigu's protégés were arrested on corruption-related charges or lost their jobs in a subsequent purge of the Defense Ministry, a campaign widely seen as an indirect condemnation by the Kremlin of Shoigu's behavior during the war.

Shoigu served as Russia's defense minister for 12 years, becoming one of Putin's longest-serving ministers. After losing his job, he was given a low-profile job at the Security Council, the country's defense advisory body.

General Gerasimov and Mr Shoigu are the latest Russian officials to be charged by the court. Last year, it issued arrest warrants against Putin and Russia's Ombudsman for Children's Rights, saying they bore individual criminal responsibility for the abduction and deportation of Ukrainian children following the large-scale invasion of 'Ukraine by Russia in 2022.

Russia has said it does not recognize the arrest warrants, nor the jurisdiction of the courts, and denies the war crimes. This makes it highly unlikely that Mr. Shoigu and General Gerasimov will be taken into custody in the near future.

Ivan Nechepurenko AND Marco Santora contributed to the reporting.

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