Ukraine war a turning point in history at which Moscow must be defeated – Zelenskiy

President says up to 100 Ukrainian soldiers dying each day in Donbas amid Russian assault

A Kyiv court has jailed a Russian soldier for life in the first murder case related to the Kremlin's invasion of Ukraine, as the country's president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, called the war a "turning point" in history at which Moscow's show of "brute force" must be defeated.

Vadim Shishimarin (21), a sergeant from Siberia, was found guilty of premeditated murder over the shooting of Oleksandr Shelipov, a 62-year-old civilian, a few days after Russia launched its all-out invasion of Ukraine on February 24th.

Shishimarin admitted his guilt and asked Mr Shelipov’s widow, Kateryna, for forgiveness during the trial. He described how he and fellow Russian soldiers had come under attack by Ukrainian troops, stolen a car to escape, and then been spotted by Mr Shelipov as they drove through his village; it was then that Shishimarin says he was told to shoot the unarmed pensioner, and did so.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia was "concerned" about Shishimarin but was "unable to defend his interests on the ground" in Ukraine.

Russia says it is only attacking military targets during a “special operation” to “denazify” Ukraine, a pro-western democracy. Its artillery continued on Monday to pound towns in the Donbas region, where Moscow is concentrating its forces.

Thousands of civilians have been killed and some 12 million displaced during the war, six million of whom have fled abroad. Ukrainian prosecutors say they are investigating more than 13,000 possible cases of war crimes and other atrocities committed by Russian troops.

"This year the words 'turning point' are not just a rhetorical phrase. This is really the moment when it is decided whether brute force will rule the world," Mr Zelenskiy said in a video address to global business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Casualties

As the European Union seeks agreement on new economic measures against Moscow, Mr Zelenskiy called for "maximum" sanctions "so that Russia and every other potential aggressor who wants to wage a brutal war against a neighbour knows exactly what this will lead to".

“And I think there are no such sanctions against Russia yet. And they must be imposed: a Russian oil embargo; a complete block on all [Russian] banks without exception – all of them; complete abandonment of the Russian IT sector; complete cessation of trade with the aggressor.”

Neither Kyiv nor Moscow releases full military casualty numbers, but Mr Zelenskiy said that up to 100 Ukrainian soldiers were dying each day in Donbas. He said that 87 people were killed in a Russian missile attack on the village of Desna last week; he did not say if they were servicemen or civilians, but Moscow said it had struck a military base.

Aid packages

Russia fires missiles every day at military facilities, arms factories, transport hubs, fuel refineries and other industrial sites in Ukraine to degrade its defences, cripple its economy and disrupt the delivery of western weapons to the front line. Its blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports and attacks on farm infrastructure are also stoking fears over global food supply.

US defence secretary Lloyd Austin said about 20 countries had announced new military aid packages for Ukraine during a video conference on Monday.

In a rare public show of dissent from a Russian diplomat, a counsellor at Moscow’s mission to the UN in Geneva announced his resignation, saying that “never have I been so ashamed of my country as on February 24th of this year”.

Boris Bondarev wrote that Russian president Vladimir Putin's war was "not only a crime against the Ukrainian people, but also, perhaps, the most serious crime against the people of Russia...crossing out all hopes and prospects for a prosperous free society in our country".