Ukraine to Hold First War Crimes Trial of Captured Russian – NBC Chicago

Ukraine’s top prosecutor unveiled plans for the first war crimes trial of a captured Russian soldier on Wednesday, as fighting raged in the east and south and the Kremlin considered the possibility of annexing a corner of the country he had seized at the start of the invasion.

Attorney General Iryna Venediktova said her office charged the sergeant. Vadin Shyshimarin, 21, in the murder of a 62-year-old unarmed civilian who was shot while riding a bicycle in February, four days after the war began.

Shyshimarin, who served in a tank unit, was accused of shooting through a car window at the man from the village of Chupakhivka in the northeast of the country. Venediktova said the soldier faced up to 15 years in prison. She did not say when the trial would begin.

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

Numerous alleged atrocities came to light last month after Moscow forces abandoned their bid to capture kyiv and withdrew from the capital, exposing mass graves and streets and yards littered with bodies in towns like Bucha. Residents recounted murders, arson, rape, torture and mutilation.

Economically, Ukraine has closed one of the pipelines that carry Russian gas across the country to homes and industries in Western Europe, marking the first time since the start of the war that kyiv has disrupted the flow west of one of Moscow’s most lucrative exports. .

But the immediate effect will likely be limited, in part because Russia can divert the gas to another pipeline and because Europe relies on a variety of suppliers.

Meanwhile, a Kremlin-based politician in the southern region of Kherson, site of the first major Ukrainian city to fall to war, said local officials wanted Russian President Vladimir Putin to make Kherson a “proper region”. of Russia – that is, to annex it.

“The city of Kherson is Russia,” Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Moscow-appointed Kherson regional administration, told Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

It raised the possibility that the Kremlin is looking to break up another piece of Ukraine as it tries to salvage an invasion gone wrong. Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, which borders the Kherson region, in 2014, a move denounced as illegal and rejected by most of the international community.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it would be “up to the people of the Kherson region after all to decide whether such an appeal should be made or not”. He said any attempt to annex territory should be closely assessed by legal experts to ensure it is “absolutely legitimate, as was the case with Crimea”.

Russia annexed Crimea after holding a referendum there on whether to join Russia.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak scoffed at the idea of ​​annexing Kherson, tweeting: “Invaders can ask to join even Mars or Jupiter. The Ukrainian army will liberate Kherson no matter what puns they play.

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

On the battlefield, Ukrainian officials said a Russian rocket attack targeted an area around Zaporizhzhia, destroying unspecified infrastructure. There were no immediate reports of casualties. The southeastern city has been a refuge for civilians fleeing the Russian siege in the devastated port city of Mariupol.

Russian forces continued to shell the steel mill which is the last stronghold of Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol, its defenders said. The Azov regiment said on social media that Russian forces had carried out 38 airstrikes in the past 24 hours on the grounds of the Azovstal steelworks.

The factory, with its network of tunnels and bunkers, housed hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians during a months-long siege. Dozens of civilians have been evacuated in recent days, but Ukrainian officials have said some may still be trapped there.

In his address on Tuesday evening, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hinted that the Ukrainian military was gradually moving Russian troops away from Kharkiv, the country’s second city and a key to Russia’s offensive in Donbass, the eastern industrial region whose capture, according to the Kremlin, is its main objective. .

Ukraine is also targeting Russian air defenses and supply ships on Snake Island in the Black Sea in a bid to disrupt Moscow’s efforts to expand its control over the coastline, according to the UK Defense Ministry.

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

The Ukrainian pipeline operator said it had decided 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 were interfering with the operation of the station and siphoning the gas.

The hub handles about a third of Russian gas transiting through Ukraine to Western Europe. But analysts said much of the gas could be redirected via another pipeline from Russia that runs through Ukraine, and there were indications that this was happening. However, Europe also receives natural gas from other pipelines and other countries.

“We are losing a few percent of overall European gas supply, if you also consider imports and domestic production,” said Tom Marzec-Manser, an analyst at trade news firm ICIS. “So it’s not a huge cut in gas supply” for Europe.

It was also unclear whether Russia would take an immediate hit, as it has long-term contracts and other means of transporting the gas.

Still, the cut underscored the wider risk to the war gas supply.

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

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

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Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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