Russian Soldier Handed Life Sentence In Ukraine's First War Crimes Trial

A district court in the Ukrainian capital has wrapped up the country's first ever war crimes trial involving a Russian soldier who stood accused of shooting 62-year old Oleksandr Shelipov in northeastern Ukraine’s Sumy region during the first week of the invasion in late February. It's unprecedented given the timing, as the war is still ongoing.

The 21-year old Russian soldier, identified as Vadim Shishimarin, earlier pleaded guilty, and has now been sentenced to life in prison by the Ukrainian court. The ten day trial against the Russian army sergeant examined charges of "violating the rules and conduct of war."

21-year-old tank commander Vadim Shishimarin in a Kiev court
21-year-old tank commander Vadim Shishimarin in a Kiev court, via Reuters

Shishimarin had defense counsel - with his lawyer stating the defense will appeal the verdict. "This is the most severe sentence and any level-headed person would challenge it," his lawyer was quoted as saying after the verdict and sentencing. "I will ask for the cancellation of the court's verdict."

The Russian soldier's defense team said it currently has no contact with the Kremlin, with Putin's office appearing to take a hand's off approach. "We have no way to protect his interests on the ground," Russian presidency spokesman Dmitry Peskov said at a Monday press briefing. He said Moscow will pursue "other channels."

According to the court proceedings, a higher ranking commander had told the young sergeant to execute the Ukrainian civilian:

Judge Serhiy Agafonov said Shishimarin, carrying out a "criminal order" by a soldier of higher rank, had fired several shots at the victim's head from an automatic weapon.

"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," he said.

Further, as Reuters reports the atrocity happened after a small group of Russian troops were separated from their unit while under attack:

Ukrainian state prosecutors said Shishimarin and four other Russian servicemen stole a car to escape after their column was targeted by Ukrainian forces.

After driving into Chupakhivka, the soldiers saw Shelipov riding a bicycle and talking on his phone. Shishimarin was ordered to kill Shelipov to prevent him reporting on their location, the prosecutors said.

In court last week, Shishimarin acknowledged he was to blame and asked the victim's widow to forgive him.

The proceeds set a precedent for what Ukraine has indicated will be more war crimes trials to come. Likely this will be "answered" by Russia's own war crimes tribunals against captured members of Azov battalion who last week emerged from the Azovstal steelworks plant in Mariupol. 

"We are planning to organize an international tribunal in the republic," Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) Denis Pushilin said. He stated that a charter for the tribunal is "in the works." Western media has been speculating that particularly Azov commanders could face execution.

(Article by Tyler Durden republished from

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