US welcomes ICC arrest warrants for additional Russian officials

The US welcomed the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) decision Tuesday to issue arrest warrants for Russian General Staff Chief Valery Gerasimov and former Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu.

“We have made clear that there have been atrocities committed by Russian forces in their illegal invasion of Ukraine, that there ought to be accountability for those atrocities,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters. “We support a range of international investigations into Russia’s atrocities in Ukraine, including the one conducted by the ICC.”

Shoygu and Gerasimov are accused of ordering attacks on civilian infrastructure that resulted in excessive incidental harm, as well as committing crimes against humanity of inhumane acts, the court said in a statement.

“The two warrants of arrest were issued following applications filed by the Prosecution. Pre-Trial Chamber II considered that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the two suspects bear responsibility for missile strikes carried out by the Russian armed forces against the Ukrainian electric infrastructure from at least 10 October 2022 until at least 9 March 2023,” it said.

Last year, the court issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of culpability for the abduction of children from Ukraine. US President Joe Biden said last July that the action was “justified,” and ordered his administration to share evidence of potential Russian war crimes with the top court.

Russia is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, the ICC’s founding document, meaning it is not a member. Neither is Israel.

Unlike the US reception of the court’s action against Russian officials, the US lashed out at its prosecutor’s decision to seek arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

The US maintains that because Israel is not a Rome Statute signatory, the ICC lacks jurisdiction to investigate it. It does not make the same argument vis-a-vis the court’s growing actions against Russia.

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