Statement: 25 June 2024

Statement by Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan KC on the issuance of arrest warrants in the Situation in Ukraine

Karim A. A. Khan KC, ICC Prosecutor

On 2 February 2024, I submitted applications to Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court for warrants of arrest in the context of the Situation in Ukraine.

Today, following the earlier issuance of arrest warrants in relation to two individuals addressed in these applications, the Pre-Trial Chamber has issued additional arrest warrants in relation to the following two individuals:

  • Sergei Kuzhugetovich Shoigu, Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation at the time of the alleged conduct;
  • Valery Vasilyevich Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Federation’s Armed Forces, and First Deputy Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation.

On the basis of evidence collected and analysed by my Office pursuant to its independent investigations, the Pre-Trial Chamber has confirmed that there are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Shoigu and General Gerasimov bear individual criminal responsibility for the following three crimes: 1) the war crime of directing attacks against civilian objects (article 8(2)(b)(ii) of the Rome Statute); 2) the war crime of causing excessive incidental harm to civilians or damage to civilian objects (article 8(2)(b)(iv) of the Rome Statute); and 3) the crime against humanity of inhumane acts under article 7(1)(k) of the Rome Statute.

In our application, my Office submitted that these individuals bear responsibility for attacks on critical infrastructure in Ukraine, including strikes against power plants and sub-stations, from 10 October 2022 until at least 9 March 2023. My Office presented evidence that these strikes were directed against civilian objects, and for those installations that may have qualified as military objectives at the relevant time, the expected incidental civilian harm and damage would have been clearly excessive to the anticipated military advantage.

After reviewing the evidence submitted, the Pre-Trial Chamber has determined that there are reasonable grounds to believe that a large number of strikes against numerous electric power plants and sub-stations were carried out by the Russian armed forces in multiple locations in Ukraine. The Pre-Trial Chamber found that the alleged campaign by the Russian Armed Forces during this period represents a course of conduct involving the multiple commission of acts against a civilian population, pursuant to a State policy, within the meaning of Article 7 of the Statute, establishing the basis for the finding that they may represent a crime against humanity under article 7(1)(k) of the Statute.

The Pre-Trial Chamber has also found that there are reasonable grounds to believe that these senior members of the leadership of the Russian Federation are criminally responsible for committing these crimes (i)  jointly and/or through others (article 25(3)(a) of the Rome Statute), (ii) ordering the commission of the crimes (article 25(3)(b) of the Rome Statute), and/or (iii) for their failure to exercise proper control over the forces under their command (article 28 of the Rome Statute).

In our application for these warrants, my Office again underlined that these acts were carried out in the context of the acts of aggression committed by Russian military forces against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine which began in 2014.

Today’s decision reflects my Office’s continued commitment to give meaningful effect to the protection that the law provides to civilians and protected objects. As reflected in the decision of the Chamber, one of the core objectives of international humanitarian law is the protection of civilians in armed conflicts.  

All those engaged in such conflicts must follow the baseline rules of conduct reflected in international humanitarian law. This law provides protection to all, and gives equal value to all lives. This is the starting point, the foundational principle that guides our work at the International Criminal Court. As I have repeatedly emphasised, no individual, anywhere in the world, should feel they can act with impunity.  And no person, anywhere in the world, should feel they are deserving of less protection than others.

This outcome would not have been possible without the support of many partners of the Office that allowed us to move forward with our investigations in the situation in Ukraine.  I am particularly grateful to the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine for its collaboration, including by facilitating our work on the ground.

I continue to seek cooperation from the Russian Federation in relation to the Situation in Ukraine, and ensure my Office fully meets its responsibility pursuant to article 54 of the Rome Statute to investigate incriminating and exonerating circumstances equally.

My Office remains focused in pursuing multiple, interconnected lines of investigation in Ukraine. Our work continues as we seek to deliver on our mandate to ensure justice and accountability across situations. 

Source: Office of the Prosecutor | Contact: [email protected]