War crimes trial for Russian soldier charged with killing unarmed civilian gets underway

Latest political developments

Updates from the ground on Day 79 of the war

  • Ukrainian and British officials said Russia suffered heavy losses when Ukrainian forces destroyed the pontoon bridge enemy troops were using to try to cross a river in the east.

  • Ukrainian officials said their forces have damaged a Russian logistics ship in the Black Sea.

  • Authorities said an attack on the outskirts of Kharkiv on Thursday killed at least two civilians and damaged a humanitarian aid unit, municipal offices and hospital facilities.

  • The governor of Belgorod, a Russian border region, said at least one civilian has been killed and another six wounded in Ukrainian shelling.

  • Ukrainian officials say an airstrike killed at least three people and injured 12 others in the Chernihiv region.

Russian soldier charged with killing a civilian on a bicycle

A man walks with a bicycle next to a truck that carries black bags with corpses of people killed during the war with Russia and exhumed from a mass grave for investigations in Bucha, in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, on April 11. (Rodrigo Abd/The Associated Press)

The war crimes trial of a captured Russian soldier charged with killing an unarmed 62-year-old civilian began Friday in Kyiv.

Sgt. Vadin Shyshimarin, 21, is accused in the first war crimes trial since the start of the war.

The Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office alleges the civilian was gunned down while riding a bicycle in February, four days into the invasion into Ukraine that Russia began on Feb. 24.

Scores of charges packed a small courtroom, where the suspect appeared in a glass enclosure.

Shyshimarin, who served with a tank unit, is accused of firing through a car window and shooting the man in the head in the northeastern village of Chupakhivka. He faces up to life in prison under Ukrainian law.

Finland says to Russia: ‘You caused this’

A day after Finland’s leadership signalled support for joining NATO, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said membership in the military defense pact would benefit countries around the Baltic Sea.

“Swedish NATO membership would raise the threshold for military conflicts and thus have a conflict-preventing effect in northern Europe,” Linde told reporters.

Finland’s president and prime minister announced Thursday that the Nordic country should apply right away for membership in NATO, founded in part to counter the Soviet Union.

“You [Russia] caused this. Look in the mirror,” said Finnish President Sauli Niinisto.

WATCH | Finland to submit application to join NATO:

Finland to submit application to join NATO

Finland’s leaders have signaled plans to apply to join the NATO alliance as a result of the war in Ukraine. It’s a move that would upend almost 80 years of non-alignment.

Finland’s 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.

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

Moscow’s struggle to win decisive victories

As another sign of Moscow’s struggle to win decisive victories and salvage a war gone awry, Ukrainian and British officials said Russia suffered heavy losses when a pontoon bridge being used by troops to try to cross a river in the east was destroyed.

Ukraine’s airborne forces command said the bridge over the Siversky Donets River was destroyed along with several Russian military vehicles nearby.

Russia’s forces have struggled to make progress in Eastern Ukraine, even after diverting troops from other parts of the country to the Donbas, according to a statement from Britain’s Defense Ministry.

Some analysts initially thought the campaign in the Donbas might offer President Vladimir Putin an easier battleground after his forces failed to overrun Kyiv. Instead, Russian and Ukrainian troops have fought village by village.

School lessons held in a subway station

As the fighting and Russian strikes persisted, teachers were trying to restore some sense of normalcy after the shuttered war Ukraine’s schools and devastated the lives of millions of children.

In Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, they were holding lessons wherever possible — including a subway station being used as a bomb shelter.

An elderly woman walks inside a subway station being used as a bomb shelter in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Thursday. (Mstyslav Chernov/The Associated Press)

“It helps to support them mentally. Because now there is a war, and many lost their homes … some people’s parents are fighting now,” said teacher Valeriy Leiko. In part thanks to the lessons, he said, “they feel that someone loves them.”

Primary school-age children joined Leiko around a table for history and art lessons in the subway station, which has become home for many families and where children’s drawings now line the walls.

An older student, Anna Fedoryaka, was monitoring lectures on Ukrainian literature being given by Kharkiv professor Mykhailo Spodarets online from his basement.

Internet connections were a problem, Fedoryaka said. And, “it is hard to concentrate when you have to do your homework with explosions by your window.”

Associate professor of Ukrainian literature Mykhailo Spodarets gives an online lesson from the basement of his house, used as a temporary shelter, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Thursday. (Mstyslav Chernov/The Associated Press)

Ukraine says it took out another ship

In other developments in the grinding war, Ukrainian officials said their forces took out another Russian ship in the Black Sea.

The Vsevolod Bobrov logistics ship was badly damaged but not thought to have sunk when it was struck while trying to deliver an anti-aircraft system to Snake Island, said Oleksiy Aristovych, an adviser to the Ukrainian president.

A spokesperson for the Odesa regional military administration said the vessel caught fire after the strike. There was no confirmation from Russia and no reports of consequence.

This satellite image taken by Planet Labs PBC shows smoke after Ukrainian strikes destroyed buildings housing Russian rising positions and a helicopter on Snake Island in the Black Sea on Sunday. (Planet Labs PBC/The Associated Press)

In April, the Ukrainian military sank the Moskva cruiser, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet. In March, it destroyed the landing ship Saratov.

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