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International Criminal Court Issues Arrest Warrants For Russian Officers

An exterior view of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022, The International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants Tuesday, March 5, 2024, for two high-rank

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued arrest warrants for two high-ranking Russian military officers in connection with attacks on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine. The court alleges that these attacks were carried out as part of a state policy.

This marks only the second time that the ICC has publicly announced arrest warrants related to Russia's involvement in the conflict in Ukraine. Previously, in March 2023, an arrest warrant was issued for Russian President Vladimir Putin for war crimes, specifically for his alleged personal responsibility in the abductions of children from Ukraine.

The individuals targeted in the recent arrest warrants are Russian Lt. Gen. Sergei Ivanovich Kobylash, former commander of the Long-Range Aviation of the Aerospace Force, and Russian navy Adm. Viktor Kinolayevich Sokolov, former commander of the Black Sea Fleet. They are accused of directing attacks on civilian objects and causing excessive harm to civilians or damage to civilian infrastructure, as well as committing inhumane acts.

The court's investigation focused on missile strikes carried out by Russian forces under the command of the two officers against Ukrainian electric infrastructure from October 10, 2022, to at least March 9, 2023. The attacks reportedly targeted electric power plants and sub-stations across multiple locations in Ukraine.

According to the ICC, the campaign of strikes against civilian infrastructure constitutes a course of conduct involving multiple acts against the civilian population, carried out as part of a state policy. The judges found that the expected civilian harm and damage resulting from the attacks far outweighed any potential military advantage.

Despite the arrest warrants, the likelihood of the suspects being handed over to face trial in The Hague is minimal, as Russia does not recognize the ICC's jurisdiction and has a history of refusing to surrender individuals charged by the court.

The ICC chose not to disclose specific details of the warrants to protect witnesses and ongoing investigations. However, the court emphasized that the publication of the warrants serves as a deterrent against further violations of international humanitarian law.

These developments come amidst the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, with the ICC aiming to hold individuals accountable for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the conflict.

For more updates on the war in Ukraine, visit AP's coverage.

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