Kyiv, Ukraine (AFP) – A Ukrainian court sentenced a 21-year-old Russian soldier to life in prison on Monday for the murder of a Ukrainian civilian, handing down the first war crimes conviction since the invasion of Moscow three months ago.
Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin pleaded guilty to shooting a Ukrainian civilian in the head in a village in the northeastern Sumy region in the early days of the war..
He testified that he shot the man after he ordered it. He told the court that an officer insisted that the Ukrainian man, who was speaking on his mobile phone, could locate them for Ukrainian forces.
The ruling came as the three-month-old war helped push the number of displaced people worldwide to a record high, according to the United Nations, with more than 100 million people displaced from their homes worldwide.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the World Economic Forum at its opening in Davos, Switzerland, calling for “maximum” sanctions against Russia.
And he said via a video clip that sanctions should go further to stop Russian aggression, including the oil embargo, as it has banned all of its banks and completely cut off trade with Russia.
Zelensky says his country has slowed Russia’s progress and that the courage of his people has stimulated the invisible unity of the democratic world.
On the battlefield, Russian forces intensified their bombardment of the heart of Ukraine’s eastern industrial region as they embarked on their offensive in the area now the focus of the fighting.
Grim battles in the Donbass, as Ukrainian and Russian forces battle town after 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 in his trip to Asia, Biden signed legislation Giving Ukraine an additional $40 billion to support the United States in its defense against the Russian attack.
Western support—both financial and military—was key to Ukraine’s defense, helping its outnumbered forces fend off Russia’s attempt to seize the capital, Kyiv, and fight it to a stalemate elsewhere. In the face of those setbacks, Moscow has set more limited targets in Ukraine, with its focus now on trying to expand territory held by Russian-backed separatists since 2014.
Ukrainian forces dug around Severodonetsk, the main Ukrainian-controlled city in the Donbass Luhansk Province, where Russia intensified its efforts to capture it. Governor Serhiy Hayday accused the Russians of “simply trying to deliberately destroy the city… engaging in a scorched-earth approach.”
Heyday said, on Sunday, that the Russians occupied several towns and cities in Luhansk after indiscriminate shelling that lasted 24 hours and concentrating troops and weapons there, bringing forces from Kharkiv to the northwest, Mariupol to the south, and from within Russia.
But the Ukrainian military said that Russian forces were unsuccessful in their attack on the village of Oleksandryvka, outside Severodonetsk.
The Verkhovna Rada voted on Sunday to extend martial law and mobilize its armed forces for the third time, until August 23. Ukrainian officials have said little since the war began about the scale of casualties in their country, but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday that 50 Ukrainian fighters were killed, apparently every day, in the east.
While the East is now the epicenter of the escape, the conflict is not confined there. The town’s deputy mayor said strong explosions were heard early Monday morning in Korosten, about 160 km west of Kyiv. Ukrainian news agencies reported that this is the third consecutive day of apparent attacks in the Zhytomyr region.
Picatoros reported from Donetsk. Associated Press journalists Juras Karmanau in Lviv, Andrea Rosa in Kharkiv, and other AP staff members around the world contributed.
Follow the AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
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