Ukraine holds first war crimes trial against imprisoned Russian

ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine (AP) – Ukraine’s top prosecutor on Wednesday announced plans for the first trial of a captured Russian soldier, as fighting raged in the east and south and the Kremlin left open a corner of the country it previously invaded. annexed to the invasion.

Attorney General Iryna Venediktova said her office Sgt. Vadin Shyshimarin, 21, in the murder of an unarmed 62-year-old civilian who was shot while cycling in February, four days after the war

Shyshimarin, who served with a tank unit, was charged with shooting through a car window at the man in the northeastern village of Chupakhivka. Venediktova said the soldier could face up to 15 years in prison. She did not say when the trial would begin.

Venediktova’s office has said it has investigated more than 10,700 alleged war crimes committed by Russian troops and identified more than 600 suspects.

Many of the alleged atrocities came to light last month after Moscow troops aborted their attempt to take Kiev and withdrew from the entire capital, exposing mass graves and streets and yards littered with bodies in cities like Bucha. Residents spoke of murders, burnings, rapes, torture and mutilations.

Volodymyr Yavorskyy of the Center for Civil Liberties said the Ukrainian human rights group will closely monitor Shyshimarin’s trial to see if it is fair. “It is very difficult to comply with all the rules, norms and neutrality of the judicial procedures in wartime,” he said.

Economically, Ukraine closed a pipeline that transports Russian gas across the country to homes and industries in Western Europe. This was the first time since the start of the war Kiev had disrupted the flow west of one of Moscow’s most lucrative exports.

But the direct effect is likely to be limited, partly because Russia can divert the gas to another pipeline and because Europe is dependent on different suppliers.

Meanwhile, a Kremlin-installed politician in the southern region of Kherson, site of the first major Ukrainian city to fall in the war, said officials there want Russian President Vladimir Putin to make Kherson a “real region” of Russia — that is, annexing it.

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“The city of Kherson is Russia,” Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of Kherson’s regional administration appointed by Moscow, told Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency.

That raised the possibility that the Kremlin would try to tear down another piece of Ukraine while trying to salvage a failed invasion† Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, which borders the Kherson region, after a controversial 2014 referendum, a move labeled illegal and rejected by most of the international community.

Kherson, a port city of about 300,000 inhabitants on the Black Sea, provides Crimea with access to fresh water and is seen as a gateway to wider Russian control over southern Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it is “ultimately up to the inhabitants of the Kherson region to decide whether such an appeal should be made or not”. He said any move to annex territory should be carefully evaluated by legal experts to ensure it is “absolutely legitimate, as it was with Crimea”.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak mocked the idea of ​​annexing Kherson, tweeting: “The invaders may ask to join even Mars or Jupiter. The Ukrainian army will liberate Kherson, whatever games they play with words.”

In Kherson, people have taken to the streets to condemn the Russian occupation. But a teacher who only gave her first name, Olga, for fear of Russian retaliation, said such protests are now impossible because Moscow troops “kidnapped activists and civilians for wearing Ukrainian colors or ribbons.” She said “people are afraid to talk openly outside their homes” and “everyone is running fast on the street.”

“All people in Kherson are waiting for our troops to come as soon as possible,” she added. “Nobody wants to live in Russia or join Russia.”

On the battlefield, Ukrainian officials said a Russian missile strike targeted an area around Zaporizhzhya, destroying unspecified infrastructure. There were no direct reports of casualties. The southeastern city was a refuge for civilians fleeing the ruined port city of Mariupol.

Russian troops continued to pound the steel mill, the last bastion of the Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol, defenders said. The Azov regiment said on social media that Russian troops carried out 38 airstrikes in the past 24 hours on the grounds of the Azovstal steel plant.

The factory has sheltered hundreds of Ukrainian troops and civilians during a months-long siege.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Ukraine has offered to release Russian prisoners of war if Russia allows the critically injured fighters to be evacuated.

An adviser to the mayor of Mariupol said Russian troops have blocked all evacuation routes from the city. Petro Andrushchenko said there are few apartment buildings suitable for living in and little food or drinking water. He said some remaining residents are cooperating with the occupying Russian forces in exchange for food.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy suggested on Tuesday that the Ukrainian army is gradually driving Russian troops out of Kharkov, the country’s second-largest city and a key to Russia’s offensive in the Donbas, the eastern industrial region whose capture the Kremlin says is the key. main goal.

Ukraine is also targeting Russian air defense and supply ships on Snake Island in the Black Sea in a bid to disrupt Moscow’s attempts to extend its control of the coastline, the British Defense Ministry said.

Separately, Ukraine said it shot down a cruise missile targeting the Black Sea port city of Odessa.

Elsewhere, the governor of a Russian region near Ukraine said at least one civilian was killed and six injured by Ukrainian shelling in the village of Solokhi, near the border. Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov’s account could not be independently verified, but he said the village will be evacuated.

Ukraine’s natural gas pipeline operator said it was taking steps to stop the flow of Russian gas through a compressor station in a part of eastern Ukraine controlled by Moscow-backed separatists because enemy forces interfered with the station’s operation and took off gas.

The hub processes about a third of the Russian gas that goes to Western Europe via Ukraine. But analysts said much of the gas could be diverted through another pipeline from Russia that traverses Ukraine, and there were indications that this was happening. In any case, Europe also obtains natural gas from other pipelines and from other countries.

It was not clear whether Russia would be directly affected, as it has long-term contracts and other means of transporting gas.

Still, the lockdown underscored the wider gas supply risk of the war.

“Yesterday’s decision is a small preview of what can happen if gas installations are hit by live fire and are at risk of extended outages,” said Rystad Energy gas analyst Zongqiang Luo.

In other developments, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry accused Russia of stealing Ukrainian grain and trying to sell it on world markets. The ministry estimates that Russia may have already stolen up to 500,000 tons of grain worth more than $100 million.

And US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said a ban on the sale of semiconductors and other technology to Russia by the West would limit Russia’s ability to manufacture military equipment. Ukrainians who found Russian equipment reported that it was “filled with semiconductors that they took from dishwashers and refrigerators,” Raimondo said.

Gambrell reported from Lviv, Ukraine. Yesica Fisch in Bakhmut, David Keyton in Kiev, Yuras Karmanau in Lviv, Mstyslav Chernov in Kharkiv, Lolita C. Baldor in Washington, Kelvin Chan in London and AP’s global collaborators contributed.

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