Russia-Ukraine war: Moscow ignores arrest warrants for Putin commanders

Viktor Sokolov has been reportedly sacked after a series of successful Ukrainian drone attacks against Russian warships.

ussia has said it does not recognise arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for two top Russian commanders over alleged war crimes in Ukraine.

The court named Sergei Kobylash and Viktor Sokolov on Tuesday.

“We are not parties to the [Rome] statute – we do not recognise this,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

This is the second time warrants have been issued for Russians over the war in Ukraine.

The first was for President Vladimir Putin and his children’s rights envoy

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Mr Peskov said: “This is not the first decision. We also know that there are various closed processes going on there, which are kept secret, and we treat such decisions accordingly.”

Mr Peskov said the fact that Russia was not a signatory to the Rome Statute, the international treaty which created the ICC, meant Russia did not recognise the warrants. 

It is unlikely Russian nationals will be extradited to face charges.

In a statement on Tuesday, the ICC said the latest warrants were issued because there were reasonable grounds to believe that the two suspects were responsible for “missile strikes carried out by the forces under their command against … Ukrainian electric infrastructure”.

The alleged crimes took place between October 2022 and March 2023, the ICC said. 

The court said that the attacks caused civilian harm and damage that would have been clearly excessive to any military advantage. 

The two men “are each allegedly responsible for the war crime of directing attacks at civilian objects” and are also accused of the “crime against humanity of inhumane acts”, the court said.

Mr Kobylash, 58, was the commander of long-range aviation for the Russian air force at the time of the alleged crimes. 

Mr Sokolov, 61, was an admiral in the Russian navy who commanded the Black Sea Fleet during the period to which the charges relate, according to the ICC.

Last month, it was reported that he was dismissed after a series of successful Ukrainian drone attacks against Russian warships. However, his resignation has not been officially confirmed.

The two officers have not publicly commented on the issue.

Moscow has in the past denied targeting civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, despite the wealth of evidence collected by Ukrainian and international investigators.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the latest move by the ICC.

“Every Russian commander who orders strikes against Ukrainian civilians and critical infrastructure must know that justice will be served,” he posted on social media.

“Every perpetrator of such crimes must know that they will be held accountable.”

The ICC investigates and brings to justice those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, intervening when national authorities cannot or will not prosecute.

In March last year, the ICC issued arrest warrants for President Putin and Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, Maria Lvova-Belova. The warrants related to the alleged unlawful deportation of children from Ukraine to Russia. 

Moscow denied the allegations and labelled the warrants as “outrageous”.

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –
Subscribe Now!

Latest News