Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

ICC issues arrest warrants for Russian defence leaders 


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: What is ICC?

Mains level: Does ICC have the power to prosecute Russia?

Why in the news?

On Monday, June 24, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants for former Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and current Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov for “alleged international crimes” related to the Ukraine war.

Who are the Russian leaders and what effect does the move have on them?

  • Sergei Shoigu: Former Russian Defence Minister, key ally of Putin, led the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, removed from his post in May 2024.
  • Valery Gerasimov: Current Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, Deputy Defence Minister since November 2012, seen as the most powerful man in the government after Putin and Shoigu.
  • Impact on Shoigu and Gerasimov: Both have suffered reputational damage since the war began, criticized by Russian nationalists for failing to swiftly win the war against Ukraine.

What do the ICC charges say?

  • Charges Against Shoigu and Gerasimov: Directing attacks at civilian objects, causing excessive incidental harm to civilians or damage to civilian objects.
  • Responsibility: The two officials bear individual criminal responsibility for their actions, ordering the commission of crimes, and failing to exercise proper control over their forces.
  • Specific Acts: Missile strikes against Ukrainian electric infrastructure, constituting multiple acts against a civilian population.

What is ICC?

  • Establishment: Headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands, established under the 1998 Rome Statute.
  • Purpose: Investigates and tries individuals charged with genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of aggression.
  • Membership: 123 countries are party to the Rome Statute, including Britain, Japan, Afghanistan, and Germany. The USA, India, and China are not members.
  • Function: Prosecutes heinous offences when a country’s own legal system fails to act, unlike the ICJ which deals with inter-state disputes.
  • Jurisdiction: Limited to offences occurring after July 1, 2002, committed in a country that ratified the agreement or by a national of a ratifying country, or cases referred by the UN Security Council.

Does ICC have the power to prosecute Russia?

  • Russia’s Stance: Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated that any decision of the ICC was “null and void” due to Russia not being an ICC member.
  • Effect on Leaders: Putin and other leaders risk arrest if they travel to a state party to the ICC, which is obliged to arrest them under international law. This deepens Russia’s isolation from the West.
  • Ukraine’s Position: Ukraine is not a State Party to the Rome Statute but has accepted ICC’s jurisdiction over alleged crimes occurring on its territory under Article 12(3) of the Statute. This requires Ukraine to cooperate with the ICC without delay or exception.

Conclusion: The ICC’s charges against Russian leaders highlight significant legal and geopolitical challenges, deepening Russia’s isolation and emphasizing the need for global accountability in addressing war crimes and international conflicts.

Mains question for practice: 

Q In light of the recent arrest warrants issued against Russian leaders, discuss the effectiveness and limitations of the ICC in prosecuting individuals from non-member states.15M

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Join us across Social Media platforms.

💥Mentorship New Batch Launch
💥Mentorship New Batch Launch