He pleaded guilty and testified that he shot the man after receiving the order. The officer reportedly insisted that the man could pinpoint their whereabouts.

Kyiv, Ukraine – A Russian soldier who pleaded guilty to killing a civilian was sentenced by a Ukrainian court on Monday to life in prison – the maximum – amid signs that the Kremlin could, in turn, prosecute some of the captured fighters who held out at the Mariupol Metallurgical Plant.

Meanwhile, in a rare public statement by the opposition against the war from the ranks of the Russian elite, a veteran of the Kremlin diplomat resigned and sent a scathing letter to foreign colleagues in which he said of the invasion: “I have never been so ashamed of my country as February 24.”

Also, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky called for “maximum” sanctions against Russia in a video address to world leaders and executives at the World Economic Forum in Davos (Switzerland).

And on the battlefield unfolded heavy fighting in the Donbass in the east, where Moscow forces intensified the bombing. Cities not controlled by Russia have come under constant fire, and one Ukrainian serviceman has said Russian forces have targeted civilians trying to flee.

In the first of many lawsuits on war crimes in Ukraine, a Russian sergeant. 21-year-old Vadim Shishimarin was convicted of killing a 62-year-old man who was shot in the head in a village in the northeast of Sumy region in the first days of the war.

Shishimarin, captured by a tank unit, claimed to have carried out orders, and apologized in court to the man’s widow.

His lawyer, appointed by Ukraine, Viktor Ovsyanikov, claimed that his client was not ready for the “violent military confrontation” and the massive losses suffered by Russian troops during the invasion. He said he would appeal.

Ukrainian civil liberties defender Volodymyr Yavorsky said it was “an extremely harsh sentence for one murder during the war.” But Arif Abraham, a British human rights lawyer, said the trial was “subject to full and fair due process”, including access to a lawyer.

Ukrainian prosecutors are investigating thousands of potential war crimes. Russian troops in Mariupol bombed a theater where civilians were hiding and struck the maternity hospital. After Moscow left Kyiv a few weeks ago, mass graves were discovered and the streets were littered with bodies. in cities like Bucha.

Prior to sentencing Shishimarin, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow had failed to protect the soldier “on the ground” but would consider trying to do so “through other channels.”

Mary Ellen O’Connell, an international law expert at the University of Notre Dame, said the trial of Shishimarin could be “extremely detrimental to Ukrainian soldiers in Russia’s hands”. She said Russia could decide to hold “demonstration trials” of Ukrainians to raise the morale of its soldiers and spread misinformation.

“Perhaps this would have happened if the Ukrainians had not started the trials,” O’Connell said. “But time has shown that the Ukrainians had to restrain themselves and perhaps still had to, so that the Russians could not say, ‘We are just doing to their soldiers what they did to ours.’

Russian authorities have threatened to prosecute captured Ukrainians, including fighters held at the destroyed Mariupol steel plant, the last stronghold of the resistance in the strategic southern port city. They surrendered and were taken prisoner last week, at which point Moscow said the capture of Mariupol was complete.

Russia’s main investigative body has said it intends to interrogate Mariupol defenders to “establish nationalists” and determine their involvement in crimes against civilians.

Russian authorities have seized on the far-right origins of one of the regiments there, calling the Azov regiment’s fighters “Nazis” and accusing their commander of “numerous atrocities” without evidence. Regiment is a terrorist organization.

Family members of the fighters asked for their final return to Ukraine as part of an exchange of prisoners.

Meanwhile, Boris Bondarev, a veteran Russian diplomat from the UN mission in Geneva, has resigned and sent a letter condemning “aggressive war unleashed” by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Cooper told the Associated Press: “It’s unbearable what my government is doing now.”

In his letter, Bondarev said that those who planned the war “want only one thing – to stay in power forever, live in pompous tasteless palaces, sail on yachts comparable in tonnage and cost to the entire Russian Navy, enjoying unlimited power and complete impunity.” ”

He also said that the Russian Foreign Ministry was engaged in “inciting war, lies and hatred.”

At a forum in Davos, Zelensky said sanctions against the Kremlin should go further. He called for an embargo on Russian oil, a complete cessation of trade and the withdrawal of foreign companies from the country.

“This is what sanctions should be: they should be maximum, so that Russia and every other potential aggressor who wants to wage a brutal war against its neighbor, know exactly the immediate consequences of their actions,” said Zelensky, who received a standing ovation. .

On the battlefield, Russian troops have stepped up bombing of the Donbass, the eastern industrial center of coal mines and factories Russia seeks to seize.

The head of the Donetsk regional military administration Pavlo Kirilenko said that heavy fighting was going on in the Luhansk region. Donbass consists of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

He said Russian troops were destroying cities in an attempt to capture them. “The main thing is to stop the enemy, and then you can think about liberating the territories,” he said.

He said only about 320,000 of the region’s pre-war population of 1.6 million remained, and that Russian forces continued to target evacuation efforts.

“They are killing us. They are killing locals during the evacuation, ”Kirilenko said.

“We haven’t seen the sun in three months. We are almost blind, because we were in the dark for three months, ”said Raisa Rybalka, who hid with her family first in the basement and then in a bomb shelter at the school before fleeing the village of Novomykhailauka. “The world should have seen it.”

Her son-in-law Dmitry Khalyapin said that heavy artillery was hit in the village. “Houses are being destroyed,” he said. “It’s horror.”

This was reported by Bekataros from Kramatorsk, Ukraine. Associated Press journalists Yuras Karmanov from Lviv, Andrea Rosa in Kharkiv, Danika Kirka in London and other AP staff around the world.


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