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Ukraine puts Russian solider accused of war crime on trial

Ukraine puts Russian solider accused of war crime on trial
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Kyiv: The trial of a Russian soldier accused of killing a Ukrainian civilian opened Friday, the first war crimes trial since Moscow's invasion of its neighbour.

Scores of journalists packed inside a small courtroom in the Ukrainian capital where the suspect appeared in a small glass cage for the start of a trial that has drawn international attention amid accusations of repeated atrocities by Russian forces.

Sgt. Vadim Shyshimarin, 21, is accused of shooting a 62-year-old Ukrainian man in the head in the northeastern village of Chupakhivka. He could get up to life in prison.

The killing occurred in the early days of the war, when Russian tanks advancing on Kyiv were unexpectedly routed and tank crew retreated.

Shyshimarin, a member of a tank unit that was captured by Ukrainian forces, admitted that he shot the civilian in a video posted by the Security Service of Ukraine.

I was ordered to shoot, said Shyshimarin, of the killing on Feb. 28. I shot one (round) at him. He falls. And we kept on going.

Shyshimarin's video statement is one of the first confessions of the enemy invaders, according to the Ukrainian security service.

The trial comes as Russia's campaign to take Ukraine's east slowly grinds on but its invasion has resulted in widespread repercussions beyond the battlefield.

Two and a half months after Russia's invasion of Ukraine sent a shiver of fear through Moscow's neighbors, Finland's president and prime minister announced Thursday that the Nordic country should apply right away for membership in NATO, the military defense pact founded in part to counter the Soviet Union.

You (Russia) caused this. Look in the mirror, said Finnish President Sauli Niinisto.

Finland's Parliament still has to weigh in, but the announcement means it is all but certain to apply and gain admission. The process could take months to complete. Sweden, likewise, is considering putting itself under NATO's protection.

That would represent a major change in Europe's security landscape: Sweden has avoided military alliances for more than 200 years, while Finland adopted neutrality after its defeat by the Soviets in World War II. The Kremlin warned it may take retaliatory military-technical steps.

Public opinion in both nations shifted dramatically in favor of NATO membership after the invasion, which stirred fears in countries along Russia's flank that they could be next.

Such an expansion of the alliance would leave Russia surrounded by NATO countries in the Baltic Sea and the Arctic and would amount to a stinging setback for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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