The I.C.C. Arrest Warrants for Russian Officers Will Echo Beyond Russia.

The International Criminal Court announced on Tuesday that it had issued arrest warrants for two senior Russian commanders, charging that they committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The I.C.C., which is based in The Hague, the Netherlands, is the world’s only permanent international criminal court with the power to investigate and prosecute genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression. It was created as a court of “last resort,” and has a mandate to try especially serious crimes that domestic courts are unable or unwilling to handle. Because its cases are relatively rare, they are closely watched by the international community.

Tuesday’s announcement marks a significant step forward for the I.C.C. prosecutor’s case against Russia. Last year, the court issued warrants against the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and Maria Lvova-Belova, the Russian commissioner for children’s rights, on charges relating to Russia’s abduction and deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia. But this is the first time the prosecutor has brought charges specifically relating to how Russia was conducting its war in Ukraine.

Russia has said that it does not recognize the arrest warrants, or the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction, and that it denies war crimes. And, to be clear, it is unlikely that the commanders, Lt. Gen. Sergei Ivanovich Kobylash and Adm. Viktor Nikolayevich Sokolov, will ever be arrested. The court relies on member states to make arrests, because it has no police or enforcement powers of its own. So as long as the men remain in Russia or another friendly jurisdiction, they are unlikely to end up in custody in The Hague.

But the warrants themselves amount to a significant rebuke of Russia’s actions in Ukraine. They were welcomed on Tuesday by Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, who wrote on social media: “Every perpetrator of such crimes must know that they will be held accountable. International justice requires time, but it is unavoidable.”

And they may also set an interesting precedent, legal experts said — one that might have ramifications for the conflict in Gaza, and for other wars.

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