A 21-year-old Russian soldier has been sentenced to life in prison after he was found guilty Monday of murdering an unarmed Ukrainian civilian, the result of Ukraine's first war crimes trial since Russia's invasion began, The Washington Post reports.
Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin pleaded guilty to killing a Ukrainian man in the northeastern Sumy area, but claimed he was simply following his orders. However, a judge found him guilty of "premeditated murder and violating 'the rules and customs of war' under Ukraine's criminal code," the Post writes. The crime is punishable by 10 years to life in prison.
"War crime trials are unusual while a conflict is ongoing," writes the Post, but investigators are collecting evidence in hopes of launching further war crimes prosecutions against Russia.
Officials say Shishimarin admitted to killing Oleksandr Shelipov, 62, at the beginning of the invasion in February. The man was pushing a bicycle towards the Chupakhivka village and died at the scene, said Ukraine's prosecutor general, Iryna Venediktova.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia would explore all possible options to protect Shishimarin ahead of the verdict.
"Unfortunately, we are unable to defend his interests on the ground," said Peskov. "But this does not mean we will stop considering ways to continue our efforts through other channels."
Shishimarin's attorney reportedly plans to appeal the ruling. Read more at The Washington Post.