International court seeks arrest of Russian officers for strikes on Ukraine’s power grid

Ukrainian marine drones sink another Russian warship near occupied Crimea

The International Criminal Court has issued war crimes arrest warrants for two senior Russian military officers for allegedly bombing civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, as Kyiv’s forces used marine drones to sink another Russian warship in the Black Sea.

The court in The Hague ordered the arrest of Sergei Kobylash, who was commander of Russia’s fleet of long-range military aircraft when the alleged crimes were committed, and Viktor Sokolov, who commanded the Russian navy’s Black Sea fleet at the same time. It is not clear if both men are still in those posts, two years into Russia’s full invasion of Ukraine.

They are suspected of “the war crime of directing attacks at civilian objects … and the war crime of causing excessive incidental harm to civilians or damage to civilian objects … and the crime against humanity of inhumane acts,” the court said on Tuesday.

A pre-trial chamber found “reasonable grounds to believe that the two suspects bear responsibility for missile strikes carried out by the forces under their command against the Ukrainian electric infrastructure from at least October 10th, 2022 until at least March 9th, 2023,” the court added in a statement.


The chamber also found reasonable grounds to believe that “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”.

There was no immediate official response from Moscow, but it rejected the court’s authority last year when it issued arrest warrants for Russian president Vladimir Putin and his children’s rights commissioner, Maria Lvova-Belova, for their alleged role in the illegal transfer of children to Russia from occupied areas of Ukraine.

Ukraine’s GUR military intelligence service released footage that it said showed marine drones hitting and sinking Russia’s “Sergei Kotov” patrol ship in the Black Sea near Crimea, which the Kremlin annexed 10 years ago. Several Russian military bloggers reported that the ship had been hit and sunk, but there was no official comment from Moscow.

The GUR said seven Russian sailors had been killed and six injured on the ship, and released what it claimed was an audio recording of a Russian officer reporting on the incident, and saying that the crew had tried for 40 minutes to fight off five marine drones but had ultimately failed, leading to the loss of the ship and a helicopter that had been on deck. The casualty figures and veracity of the recording could not be verified.

“This is a new ship worth more than $60 million [€55 million]. Ships of this type entered the service in 2017… In addition to serving as a patrol boat, there were plans to place anti-aircraft systems on the ship itself,” said GUR spokesman Andrii Yusov.

“The fewer such ships [there are], the fewer air defence systems can be placed on them, presenting more opportunities for Ukrainian forces,” he added.

Kyiv says it has destroyed or damaged almost 30 ships in Russia’s Black Sea fleet in the last two years, mostly using Ukrainian-made marine drones and western-supplied cruise missiles. The International Institute for Strategic Studies think tank puts the number at a minimum of 13.

Russia plans to strengthen its military close to Scandinavia in response to Finland joining Nato and Sweden being poised to follow suit, Moscow’s defence minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday.

Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin is a contributor to The Irish Times from central and eastern Europe