Russian soldier sentenced to life in prison in Ukraine’s first war crimes trial

Kyiv: A 21-year-old Russian soldier was sentenced to life in prison by a Ukrainian court on Monday for killing a Ukrainian civilian, sealing the first guilty conviction for war crimes since Moscow’s invasion three months ago.

Sergeant Vadim Shishimarin pleaded guilty to shooting a Ukrainian civilian in the head in a village in the north-eastern Sumy region in the early days of the war.

Russian army Sergeant Vadim Shishimarin has been sentenced to life in prison.Credit:AP

He testified that he shot the man after being ordered to do so. He told the court that an officer insisted that the Ukrainian man, who was speaking on his cellphone, could pinpoint their location to the Ukrainian forces.

The sentencing came as the three-month-old war helped push the number of people displaced worldwide to the highest level on record level, according to the United Nations, with more 100 million people driven from their homes across the globe.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the World Economic Forum as it opened in Davos, Switzerland, calling for “maximum” sanctions against Russia.

He said by video that sanctions needed to go further to stop Russia’s aggression, including an oil embargo, all of its banks blocked and cutting off trade with Russia completely.

Zelensky says his country has slowed Russian advances and his people’s courage has stirred unseen unity of the democratic world.

On the battlefield, Russian forces have stepped up shelling in Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland as they press their offensive in the region that is now the focus of fighting.

Grinding battles in the Donbas, where Ukrainian and Russian forces are fighting town by town, have forced many civilians to flee their homes.

In Tokyo on Monday, US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida joined in condemning Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Earlier on his trip to Asia, Biden signed legislation granting Ukraine $40 billion more in US support for its defence against the Russian attack.

Western support — both financial and military — has been key to Ukraine’s defence, helping their outgunned and outnumbered forces to repel Russia’s attempt to take the capital of Kyiv and fight them to a standstill in other places. In the face of those setbacks, Moscow has outlined more limited goals in Ukraine, with its sights now on trying to expand the territory that Russia-backed separatists have held since 2014.

Ukraine’s parliament voted on Sunday to extend martial law and mobilise its armed forces for a third time, until August 23.

While the east is now the focus of flighting, the conflict is not confined there. Powerful explosions were heard early on Monday in Korosten, about 160 kilometres west of Kyiv, the town’s deputy mayor said. It was the third straight day of apparent attacks in the Zhytomyr District, Ukrainian news agencies reported.


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