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Russian soldier jailed for life for murdering unarmed Ukrainian civilian

Picture Courtesy: Reuters

A Ukrainian court has jailed a Russian soldier for life for killing a civilian at the first war crimes trial since the invasion. The 21-year-old Russian soldier Sgt Vadim Shishimarin was convicted of killing Oleksandr Shelipov, 62, in the north-eastern village of Chupakhivka on 28 February.

Shishimarin, who was wearing a blue and grey hooded sweatshirt, watched proceedings silently from a reinforced glass box in the courtroom this morning. As the verdict was read, he showed no emotions.

The Ukrainian state prosecutors said the soldier was among four other Russian servicemen who fired at and stole a privately owned car in order to escape after their column was targeted by Ukrainian forces.

Moscow said on Monday that it was looking at the situation and figuring out ways to defend its soldier. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov noted, however, that Russia did "not have the capacity to protect his interests in person". Russia's embassy in Kyiv is currently closed.

Judge Serhiy Agafonov said, “Given that the crime committed is a crime against peace, security, humanity and the international legal order... the court does not see the possibility of imposing a [shorter] sentence of imprisonment.”

In a dramatic moment during the trial, the victim's widow Kateryna Shelipova confronted Shishimarin. "Tell me please, why did you [Russians] come here? To protect us?" she asked, citing Russian President Vladimir Putin's justification for the invasion of Ukraine. Since President Putin sent Russian troops into Ukraine on 24 February, at least 3,838 civilians have been killed and 4,351 injured.

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