Kyiv, Ukraine – A Russian prisoner of war who pleaded guilty to killing a civilian has been sentenced by a Ukrainian court on Monday to life in prison – the maximum – amid signs that the Kremlin could, in turn, prosecute some surrendered fighters. in Mariupol metallurgical plant.

Meanwhile, in a rare public statement of opposition to the war from the Russian elite, the Kremlin veteran 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 of February 24.”

Also, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for “maximum” sanctions against Russia in a video address to world leaders and leaders 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 official said Russian forces targeted civilians trying to flee.

In the first of that there may be many trials of 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 early days of the war.

Shishimarin, a member of the tank unit, claimed to have obeyed 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 “with 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 in cities such as Bucha, and the streets were littered with bodies.

Before sentencing Shishimarin, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow had failed to defend the soldier, 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 should have restrained themselves, and perhaps still should, 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. Russia’s chief prosecutor has asked the country’s Supreme Court to recognize the Azov Regiment as 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.

Russian sergeant. Vadim Shishimarin listens to his translator on Monday during a court hearing in Kyiv, Ukraine. On Monday, a court sentenced a 21-year-old soldier to life in prison for killing a civilian in Ukraine as part of the first post-Russian war crimes trial.

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