International Court Issues Arrest Warrants For 2 Russian Officers

The International Criminal Court on March 5 issued two arrest warrants for Russian military commanders accused of committing war crimes for ordering airstrikes on civilian electrical infrastructure in Ukraine, the Associated Press reported.

Prosecutors in The Hague accused Lt. Gen. Sergei Ivanovich Kobylash, commander of the Russian Aerospace Force’s Long-Range Aviation division, and Adm. Viktor Kinolayevich Sokolov, commander of the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet, of committing a war crime when they directed Russian forces to attack civilian infrastructure from the fall of 2022 until March 2023.

Judges with the International Criminal Court reviewed the evidence presented by International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan and determined that there were “reasonable grounds” to conclude that Kobylash and Sokolov were responsible for ordering the airstrikes, and issued warrants for their arrest.

Prosecutor Khan told reporters that as commanders, Kovylash and Sokolov should have known that any actions against civilians or “protected objects,” like electrical infrastructure, violated international humanitarian law.

Starting in October 2022, Russian forces began targeting civilian powerplants and substations in Ukraine for missile and drone strikes.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a post on X that the ICC’s arrest warrants served as a reminder to Russian military commanders who order airstrikes on civilian targets that they would be “held accountable.”

However, the arrest warrants are unlikely to hold either commander accountable as Moscow has never handed over any suspect under warrant by the ICC.

The International Criminal Court in the Hague does not have the authority to make arrests. Instead, it must rely on member countries to apprehend suspects. Russia is not a member and refuses to recognize the court’s jurisdiction.

One year ago, the International Criminal Court issued warrants to arrest Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Maria Lvova-Belova, whom the court accused of being personally responsible for Russia’s abduction of Ukrainian orphans who were taken from the occupied territories into Russia.