Russian soldier, 21, pleads guilty to murder of civilian in first war crimes trial of Ukraine conflict

Vadim Shishimarin is charged with murdering a 62-year-old civilian in February

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A Russian soldier has pleaded guilty to murder in a Kyiv District Court.

Vadim Shishimarin, 21, is charged with murdering a 62-year-old civilian in the northeast Ukrainian village of Chupakhivka on February 28.

If convicted, Shishimarin, a Russian tank commander, faces up to life imprisonment.

The case is the first war crimes trial to be held since the outbreak of war in Ukraine.

The Ukraine government has accused Russia of atrocities and brutality against civilians during the invasion and said it has identified more than 10,000 possible war crimes.

Vadim Shishimarin
Vadim Shishimarin
Shishimarin faces up to life imprisonment if convicted
Shishimarin faces up to life imprisonment if convicted

Russia has denied targeting civilians or involvement in war crimes and accused Kyiv of staging them to smear its forces.

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

The Russian soldiers drove into the village of Chupakhivka where they saw an unarmed resident riding a bicycle and talking on his phone, they said.

They added that Shishimarin was ordered by another serviceman to kill the civilian to prevent him reporting on the Russians' presence and fired several shots through the open window of the car with an assault rifle at the civilian's head. The civilian died on the spot.

It comes after Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the UK is open to the idea of an international criminal tribunal trying Vladimir Putin and other Russian leaders over the war in Ukraine.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (Pace) has called on all its member states, including Britain, to “urgently” set up an ad-hoc tribunal, with a mandate to “investigate and prosecute the crime of aggression allegedly committed by the political and military leadership of the Russian Federation”.

The assembly has proposed the tribunal should be based in Strasbourg, in view of “possible synergies” with the European Court of Human Rights.

It should have the power to issue international arrest warrants and should not be limited by state immunity or the immunity of heads of state and government, or other state officials, it said.

The UK is already supporting a separate International Criminal Court (ICC) probe into alleged war crimes in Ukraine.