The first trial of a Russian soldier for war crimes in Ukraine since the invasion ended Monday with Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin, a 21-year-old Siberian, sentenced to life in prison for premeditated murder and violation of international laws of war.
Shishimarin, a captured Russian tank unit sergeant, shot 62-year-old civilian Oleksandr Shelipov in the head in late February. Shishimarin had pleaded guilty, but his defense had argued that he was carrying out a direct order which he had initially disobeyed.
“The accused’s guilt has been fully confirmed,” the court ruled. “Shishimarin, being a Russian serviceman, violated the laws and customs of war.”
Last week, Shishimarin asked for forgiveness from Shelipov’s widow, Kateryna. She said she wanted a life sentence, but also that she would be willing to see Shishimarin sent back to Russia in exchange for Ukrainian fighters who surrendered to Russian forces at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.
During the trial, the three-judge panel heard that Shishimarin had been ordered to kill the man so he could not report them to Ukrainian military authorities. Shishimarin fired his Kalashnikov at the victim through an open car window.
“I was nervous about what was happening. I didn’t want to kill,” Shishimarin said at the hearing in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv. Judge Serhiy Ahafonov said he did not consider the defendant’s remorse to be sincere.
Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova previously said her office was preparing war crimes cases against 41 Russian soldiers for offenses including bombing civilian infrastructure, killing civilians, raping and looting. Venediktova’s office has collected more than 10,700 war crimes allegations against Russia involving more than 600 suspects, including Russian soldiers and government officials.
►The Russian army on Monday released images of demining specialists working at the Azostal steelworks in Mariupol. The Russian Defense Ministry told state news agency RIA Novosti that more than 100 explosives had been destroyed since the last Ukrainian resisters surrendered.
►Russia continued its offensive in eastern Ukraine on Sunday as Polish President Andrzej Duda traveled to Kyiv to support Poland’s European Union aspirations, becoming the first foreign leader to address the Ukrainian parliament since the beginning of the war.
►German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he would “work actively” to enable grain exports from Ukraine and to supply Ukraine with fertilizers, Reuters reported. Russia has blocked Black Sea ports that are vital for the export of Ukrainian wheat and other crops, fueling the price spike.
Russian diplomat resigns, ‘ashamed’ of invasion
A senior Russian diplomat with the United Nations Office in Geneva has resigned from his post, saying he is “ashamed” of his country’s invasion of Ukraine. Boris Bondarev, 41, confirmed his resignation in a letter delivered Monday morning to the Russian diplomatic mission castigating the “war of aggression unleashed” by President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine.
“During twenty years of my diplomatic career, I have seen different turns in our foreign policy, but never have I been so ashamed of my country as on February 24 of this year,” he wrote.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. Bondarev, who recently worked on Russia’s role at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, told The Associated Press he was concerned about Moscow’s response to his letter.
“Not all Russian diplomats are warmongers,” he said. “They are reasonable, but they must shut up.”
Swedish PM cites ‘positive’ appeal with Erdogan on NATO membership
Negotiations with Turkey over Sweden’s NATO membership will take longer, but a recent phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was “good and positive”, Sweden’s prime minister said on Monday. Magdalena Andersson told Sweden’s official TT news agency that she was looking forward to the upcoming negotiations with Ankara. Edrogan took issue with Sweden and Finland, citing their alleged support for the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and other groups Turkey considers terrorists. Andersson said Sweden was one of the first countries to classify the PKK as terrorist.
Sweden and Finland formally applied to join NATO last week – a move prompted by Russia’s war on Ukraine. Unanimous consent of all NATO members is required for new members. Erdogan made few references to Finland amid reports that most of Turkey’s grievances are directed against Sweden, which has a large Kurdish exile community.
Russian casualty rate high – and rising, UK assessment finds
In the first three months of its “special military operation”, Russia likely suffered a death toll similar to that recorded by the Soviet Union during its entire nine-year war in Afghanistan, the British Ministry of Defense has said. in his latest assessment of the war. in Ukraine. About 15,000 Russians died in the Afghan war that ended in 1989.
“Poor tactics at low altitude, limited air cover, a lack of flexibility and a command approach ready to reinforce repeated failures and mistakes have led to this high casualty rate (in Ukraine), which continues to increase in the Donbass offensive,” the assessment said.
The Russian public has, in the past, “shown sympathy for the losses incurred in wars of choice,” the assessment says. As the death toll rises and the human cost becomes more apparent, public dissatisfaction with the war and the willingness to voice it could grow, he says.
Fighters who surrendered to steel mill face ‘international court’
The leader of the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine has said nearly 2,500 Azovstal steelworks fighters captured by Russian forces will face an “international court” there. Denis Pushilin was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying that “at the moment the tribunal’s charter is being drafted”.
Family members of fighters taken prisoner at the mill have pleaded for them to be granted rights as POWs and eventually returned to Ukraine.
Former defense secretary: Russia probably won’t use nuclear weapons
Even if the war in Ukraine is much worse than expected for Russia, the likelihood of Russian President Vladimir Putin deploying a nuclear weapon is “low but not zero”, the former US Secretary of Defense and Director of Defense said on Sunday. CIA, Robert Gates. “Face the nation with Margaret Brennan,” Gates said, Russia’s use of a tactical weapon would elicit a strong response from the West.
“The other thing that I hope someone around Putin reminds him of is that in this part of the world, and especially in eastern Ukraine, the winds tend to blow from the ‘west,” Gates said. nuclear weapon in eastern Ukraine, the radiation will go to Russia.”
Gates, who served as defense secretary under Republican President George W. Bush and Democratic President Barack Obama from 2006 to 2011, said the Biden administration should have started arming Ukraine for conflict with the Russians. months earlier. But he gives President Joe Biden high marks for rallying US allies and bringing together a coalition to confront Russia, resisting calls for a no-fly zone – which would require deeper intervention – and for refusing to bite on Putin’s nuclear threats.
Gates pointed out that Western sanctions and battlefield failures have dealt a severe blow to Russia and its global standing. “Putin will remain an outcast,” Gates said, “He really put Russia behind the eight ball economically, militarily, and because now people are going to look at the Russian military and say, ‘You know, that was supposed to be this fantastic army. Well, they give a good parade, but in real combat, not so hot. ‘”
Biden and Harris on Russia’s banned list, but not Trump
Russia has permanently banned nearly 1,000 Americans from entering the country in response to US support for Ukraine in the war, and the list includes many elected leaders but conspicuously omits one prominent – l former President Donald Trump.
Speaker Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy were among the 963 banned by Russia, a largely symbolic gesture.
Recent living former presidents like Barack Obama and George W. Bush were not on the banned list, but Trump’s name stands out because he has often been accused of being too comfortable with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Two days before the Feb. 24 invasion, Trump called Putin’s strategy toward Ukraine “genius” and “savant.”