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Russian Soldier Gets Life in Prison in First Ukraine War Crime Trial

ukraine war crimes trial
Credit: Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 4.0

Russian soldier Vadim Syshimarin was sentenced to life in prison in Ukraine on Monday in the country’s first war crime trial since Russian troops invaded the country three months ago.

Syshimarin, 21, was found guilty of killing a 62-year-old, unarmed man in the head in northern Ukraine shortly after the invasion.

The Russian soldier admitted to the crime but argued that he was following orders. He stated that he initially refused to shoot the man but followed orders after his superior repeated the command.

In the following month, Syshimarin will have the right to appeal the verdict but will remain in custody during that time.

War crime trial likely first in a long series of court cases in Ukraine

The trial, which took place in the capital city of Kyiv, may be the first in a long series of other trials for war crimes perpetrated in the country.

The Russian soldier required an interpreter, as the proceedings were conducted in Ukrainian. During the trial, he stated that his actions were “unacceptable” and begged for forgiveness from the man’s family members.

While Ukraine itself has been investigating allegations of war crimes, so have the International Criminal Court and United Nations.

Most notable was the slaughtering of civilians in the city of Bucha in early April. Images released at the time show civilian bodies—many with bound hands, close-range gunshot wounds, and signs of torture—strewn across a street following the withdrawal of Russian forces. Reporters observed a mass grave in the town with residents saying they believed at least 150 people were buried there.

Joe Biden then called for Vladimir Putin to be tried for war crimes following the killings of civilians in the city of Bucha, Ukraine.

Biden proclaimed the images coming from Bucha warranted calling Putin a “war criminal,” adding, “but we have to gather the information. We have to continue to provide Ukraine with the weapons they need to continue the fight and we have to get all the details so this can be an actual…war-crime trial.”

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