First Russian Soldier Sentenced To Life In Prison For War Crime In Ukraine

(Photo by SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Healthcare Reporter
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A Russian soldier has been sentenced to life in prison for murdering a 62-year-old civilian in Ukraine, making him the first person to be convicted for a war crime following Russia’s invasion earlier this year.

Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin pleaded guilty to killing Oleksandr Shelipov in the village of Chupakhivka during the first week of the war, according to the New York Post. He was sentenced Monday to life in prison during court proceedings in Kyiv.

Shishimarin admitted to shooting Shelipov in the head in Ukraine’s northeastern Sumy region four days after the invasion, according to the New York Post. Shishimarin and four other Russian soldiers stole a car after their tank column was targeted by Ukrainian forces and were driving it when they saw Shelipov on a bike on the side of the road, prosecutors said.

The 21-year-old tank commander testified that he was ordered to shoot Shelipov because his cellphone could be tracked to identify their location. He opened fire with an automatic rifle, killing the unarmed civilian instantly, the outlet reported.

“Given that the crime committed is a crime against peace, security, humanity and the international legal order … the court does not see the possibility of imposing a (shorter) sentence of imprisonment on Shishimarin for a certain period,” the court said, according to the outlet.

The young soldier admitted his guilt after being confronted by Shelipov’s widow. “Tell me, what did you feel when you killed my husband? Do you repent of this crime?” she asked of Shishimarin during the trial last week. (RELATED: Biden Signs Massive $40 Billion Ukraine Aid Package Into Law)

“Yes. I admit guilt,” he replied. “I understand that you will not be able to forgive me. I ask for forgiveness.”

The Kremlin has not publicly responded to Shishimarin’s conviction and sentencing, the New York Post noted.

It is the first war crimes trial to be concluded since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Human rights observers and Western powers including the U.S. have concluded that Russian forces have committed numerous war crimes during the fighting.