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6 Mar, 2024 09:21

ICC arrest warrant for Russian commanders is invalid – Kremlin

The tribunal has accused two senior officers of war crimes allegedly committed during the Ukraine conflict
ICC arrest warrant for Russian commanders is invalid – Kremlin

An arrest warrant for senior Russian military commanders issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) is null and void, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said, as Moscow does not recognize The Hague-based tribunal.

On Tuesday, the ICC accused Lieutenant-General Sergey Kobylash of the Long-Range Aviation fleet and Admiral Viktor Sokolov of Russia’s Black Sea fleet of “war crimes.”

The tribunal claimed that the officers were responsible for “directing attacks at civilian objects,” causing “excessive incidental harm to civilians.”

According to the statement, Kobylash and Sokolov were complicit in a barrage “against the Ukrainian electric infrastructure from at least October 10, 2022 until at least March 9, 2023.”

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Peskov noted that Russia is not a party to the Rome Statute that established the ICC in the first place, and “does not recognize” the court’s authority.

He said this was not the first ICC ruling targeting Russian officials. “We also know that there are different closed processes underway that are kept secret,” he added.

Last March, the ICC issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Commissioner for Children’s Rights Maria Lvova-Belova for allegedly participating in the “unlawful” deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia.

Moscow also declared that decision null and void, arguing that children had been evacuated from frontline regions in the interest of safety. It maintains that any children who found themselves on Russian territory would be returned to their parents or legal guardians on demand.

In response to the ICC ruling, Moscow opened a criminal investigation into several prosecutors behind the charges, saying they had knowingly accused an innocent person of a crime, with the tribunal’s president Piotr Hofmanski also later appearing on Russia’s wanted list.

The latest accusations by the ICC apparently refer to Russia’s campaign targeting Ukrainian energy infrastructure, which began in 2022 following Kiev’s terrorist bombing of the strategic Crimean Bridge on October 8 of the same year. While Ukrainian officials initially denied their involvement, they later acknowledged that they were indeed behind the attack, which they said had sought to undermine Russia’s logistics.