Russian soldier pleads guilty in first war crimes trial since Ukraine invasion

Sergeant Vadim Shyshimarin pleaded guilty to the charges during his trial in Kyiv

A Russian soldier facing the first war crimes trial since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine has pleaded guilty to charges of killing a Ukrainian civilian.

Sergeant Vadim Shyshimarin pleaded guilty to the charges during his trial in Kyiv on Wednesday. The 21-year-old soldier could get life in prison if convicted of shooting a Ukrainian man in the head through an open car window in a village in the northeastern Sumy region on February 28th, four days into the invasion.

Ukrainian state prosecutors have said the soldier and four other Russian servicemen fired at and stole a privately owned car to escape after their column was targeted by Ukrainian forces.

The Russian soldiers drove into the village of Chupakhivka where they saw an unarmed resident riding a bicycle and talking on his phone, they said.

They said Mr Shishimarin was ordered by another serviceman to kill the civilian to prevent him reporting on the Russians' presence and fired several shots through the open window of the car with an assault rifle at the civilian's head. The civilian died on the spot.

Ukraine's prosecutor general Iryna Venediktova has previously said her office was readying war crimes cases against 41 Russian soldiers for offences including bombing civilian infrastructure, killing civilians, rape and looting.

It was not immediately clear how many of the suspects were in Ukrainian hands and how many could be tried in absentia.

Russia has denied targeting civilians or involvement in war crimes and accused Kyiv of staging them to smear its forces. – AP