The war between Russia and Ukraine: Moscow ignores arrest warrants for Putin's leaders

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

Russia said it does not recognize arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court for two senior Russian military commanders over alleged war crimes in Ukraine.

The court appointed Sergei Kobylash and Viktor Sokolov on Tuesday.

“We are not parties to [Rome] “We do not recognize this,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

This is the second time arrest warrants have been issued against Russians in connection with the war in Ukraine.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Peskov said: “This is not the first decision. We also know that there are many closed operations going on there, which remain secret, and we deal with such decisions accordingly.”

Peskov said the fact that Russia was not a signatory to the Rome Statute, the international treaty that established the International Criminal Court, meant that Russia did not recognize the arrest warrants.

It is unlikely that Russian citizens will be extradited to face charges.

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

The ICC said the alleged crimes occurred between October 2022 and March 2023.

The court said that the attacks caused civilian harm and damage that was clearly excessive and had no military advantage.

The court said that the two men “are each allegedly responsible for the war crime of directing attacks on civilian targets” and are also accused of committing a “crime against humanity of committing inhumane acts.”

Kobylash, 58, was the commander of long-range aviation of the Russian Air Force at the time of the alleged crimes.

Sokolov, 61, was an admiral in the Russian Navy and commanded the Black Sea Fleet during the period to which the charges relate, according to the International Criminal Court.

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

The two officers did not comment publicly on this case.

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

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the latest step taken by the International Criminal Court.

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

He added: “Everyone who commits such crimes must know that he will be held accountable.”

The ICC investigates and brings to justice those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, and intervenes when national authorities are unable or unwilling to prosecute them.

In March last year, the International Criminal Court issued two arrest warrants against President Putin and the Russian Commissioner for Children's Rights, Maria Lvova Belova. The arrest warrants relate to the alleged illegal deportation of children from Ukraine to Russia.

Moscow denied the allegations and called the arrest warrants “outrageous.”

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