Ukraine court jails Russian soldier for life in war crimes trial

Vadim Shishimarin, a 21-year-old tank commander, had pleaded guilty to killing 62-year-old Oleksandr Shelipov.

 War crime prosecutor's team member speaks on the phone next to buildings that were destroyed by Russian shelling, amid Russia's Invasion of Ukraine, in Borodyanka, Kyiv region, Ukraine April 7, 2022 (photo credit: REUTERS/ZOHRA BENSEMRA)
War crime prosecutor's team member speaks on the phone next to buildings that were destroyed by Russian shelling, amid Russia's Invasion of Ukraine, in Borodyanka, Kyiv region, Ukraine April 7, 2022
(photo credit: REUTERS/ZOHRA BENSEMRA)

A Ukrainian court sentenced a Russian soldier to life in prison on Monday for killing an unarmed civilian in the first war crimes trial arising from Russia's Feb. 24 invasion.

Vadim Shishimarin, a 21-year-old tank commander, had pleaded guilty to killing 62-year-old Oleksandr Shelipov in the northeastern Ukrainian village of Chupakhivka on Feb. 28 after being ordered to shoot him.

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.

Shishimarin, wearing a blue and grey hooded sweatshirt, watched proceedings silently from a reinforced glass box in the courtroom and showed no emotion as the verdict was read out.

The trial has huge symbolic significance for Ukraine, which has accused Russia of atrocities and brutality against civilians during the invasion and said it has identified more than 10,000 possible war crimes. 

 Service members of pro-Russian troops walk across a road before the expected departure of Ukrainian soldiers, who surrendered at the besieged Azovstal steel mill, in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in Mariupol, Ukraine May 19, 2022. (credit: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters) Service members of pro-Russian troops walk across a road before the expected departure of Ukrainian soldiers, who surrendered at the besieged Azovstal steel mill, in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in Mariupol, Ukraine May 19, 2022. (credit: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

Russia has denied targeting civilians or involvement in war crimes.

The Kremlin did not immediately comment on the verdict. It has previously said that it has no information about the trial and that the absence of a diplomatic mission in Ukraine limits its ability to provide assistance.