KYIV, Ukraine — A 21-year-old Russian soldier facing the first war crimes trial since Moscow invaded Ukraine pleaded guilty Wednesday to killing an unarmed civilian.
Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin could get life in prison for allegedly shooting a 62-year-old Ukrainian man in the head through an open car window in the northeastern Sumy region on Feb. 28, four days into the invasion.
Shishimarin, a captured member of a Russian tank unit, was prosecuted under a section of the Ukrainian criminal code that addresses the laws and customs of war.
“The … accused Shishimarin fully admitted the guilt of the crime in accordance with all circumstances established during the pre-trial investigation and announced by the prosecution during the trial today,” prosecutor Yaroslav Uschapivskyi said.
“(Shishimarin) was instructed (to shoot a civilian) by a person who wasn’t his direct commander or a person whose instructions he was obliged to follow,” Uschapivskyi added. “So it’s not correct to say that there was some sort of order.”
Ukrainian Prosecutor Preps 41 Cases
Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova previously said her office was readying war crimes cases against 41 Russian soldiers for offenses that included bombing civilian infrastructure, killing civilians, rape, and looting.
It was not immediately clear how many of the suspects are in Ukrainian hands and how many would be tried in absentia.
Prosecutors plan to continue presenting evidence against Shishimarin following his guilty plea.
As the inaugural war-crimes case in Ukraine, Shishimarin’s prosecution was being watched closely. Investigators have been collecting evidence of possible war crimes to bring before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Russia is believed to be preparing war crime trials for Ukrainian soldiers.
Key Developments in Russia-Ukraine War
— Interrogation, uncertainty for surrendering Mariupol troops
— NATO talks with Finland, Sweden falter but will continue
— Ukraine hopes to swap steel mill fighters for Russian POWs
— Will Turkey upend NATO expansion? US officials seek clarity
— In Ukraine, limbs lost and lives devastated in an instant
— Europe’s push to cut Russian gas faces a race against winter
— Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
UN Chief: War Is Driving World Hunger
UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations chief said Wednesday he is in “intense contacts” with Russia and other countries to stop escalating global hunger exacerbated by the war in Ukraine by allowing the export of grain stored in Ukrainian ports and ensuring Russian food and fertilizers have unrestricted access to world markets.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he’s hopeful after discussions with Moscow, Ukraine, Turkey, the U.S., European Union, and other key countries.
Guterres said Ukraine and Russia together produce almost a third of the world’s wheat and barley and half of its sunflower oil, and Russia and its ally Belarus are the world’s number two and three producers of potash, a key ingredient of fertilizer.
The secretary-general said the number of people facing severe food insecurity has doubled in just two years from 135 million pre-pandemic to 276 million today.