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Russia-Ukraine latest: first war crimes trial in Kyiv; UK says Russian commanders ‘under pressure’ after failed river crossing – live | Russia

Russian commander set to go on trial for war crimes in Kyiv

Daniel Boffey

A court in Kyiv will hear the first war crime trial since the invasion began when a Russian soldier accused of murdering a 62-year-old civilian appears in the dock on Friday, the Guardian’s Daniel Boffey reports.

The defendant who will appear at Kyiv’s district court is Vadim Shysimarin, a 21-year-old commander of the Kantemirovskaya tank division, who is currently in Ukrainian custody.

It is alleged Shysimarin, a sergeant, had been fighting in the Sumy region in north-east Ukraine when he killed a civilian on 28 February in the village of Chupakhivka.

He is accused of shooting at a civilian car after his convoy of military vehicles had come under attack from Ukrainian forces. He then drove the car away with four other soldiers as he sought to flee Ukrainian fighters.

Shysimarin shot dead the unarmed man, who was on a bicycle and talking on his phone, after being ordered “to kill a civilian so he would not report them to Ukrainian defenders”, according to prosecutors.

Read on here:

The Russian Embassy in Latvia has issued a strongly worded statement about the decision yesterday in Riga to suspend protections of Soviet monuments within its borders. The embassy says:

We are outraged by the decision of the Latvian Saeima to unilaterally suspend Article 13 of the Russian-Latvian Intergovernmental Agreement of 30 April, 1994, which prescribes the Latvian side to protect, maintain and take care of memorials.

This traitorous, unjustified step has neither moral nor legal grounds and constitutes a flagrant violation of the universally recognised principles and norms of international law, including the provisions of this very treaty.

This situation clearly demonstrates for the entire responsible international community the true face of the political elite of modern Latvia: cynicism, double standards, a complete rejection of civilised ways of settling interstate issues and brazen disregard for the fundamental principles of international law. In Latvia, the problem of settling the score with one’s own historical past is looming large.

Yesterday Latvia’s parliament voted that protection of Soviet monuments would be suspended until Russian forces left Ukraine. MP Krista Baumane said that the monuments were symbols of Russian occupation and of Russian crimes in Ukraine.

A small number of lawmakers opposed the move, saying they were memorials for the victory over Nazism in the second world war, and nothing to do with the current conflict.

Ukrainian forces have successfully prevented Russian attempts to cross the Siverskyi Donets river in the Donbas, the UK’s Ministry of Defence has said in its latest intelligence update, with images indicating that Russia “lost significant armoured manoeuvre elements of at least one Battalion Tactical Group”.

On Wednesday, Ukraine’s defence ministry published pictures of what it said were destroyed Russian tanks and other armoury in the village of Bilohorivka, near the strategic Ukrainian-held city of Lysychansk.

Artillerymen of the 17th tank brigade of the #UAarmy have opened the holiday season for ruscists. Some bathed in the Siverskyi Donets River, and some were burned by the May sun. pic.twitter.com/QsRsXmnJ65

— Defence of Ukraine (@DefenceU) May 11, 2022

The UK’s MoD said the attempted crossing showed the pressure Russian forced were under:

Conducting river crossings in a contested environment is a highly risky manoeuvre and speaks to the pressure the Russian commanders are under to make progress in their operations in eastern Ukraine.

Russian forces have failed to make any significant advances despite concentrating forces in this area after withdrawing and redeploying units from the Kyiv and Chernihiv Oblasts.

It also said Russia was “investing significant effort in the vicinity of Izium and Severodonetsk in an attempt to achieve a breakthrough towards Sloviansk and Kramatorsk.”

The primary objective on this axis is to envelop Ukrainian forces in the Joint Forces Operation area, isolating them from support or reinforcement by units in the west of the country.

The Ukrainian counteroffensive around the north-eastern city of Kharkiv is “starting to look very similar to the counteroffensive that ultimately drove Russian troops away from Kyiv and out of western Ukraine entirely”, the Institute for the Study of War has said in its latest assessment of the conflict.

It was “forcing the Russian command to make hard choices”, including by making Russian units focus their bombardments on attacking Ukrainian troops rather than the city, the US-based thinktank continued.

Meanwhile, Russian forces may be abandoning their efforts to encircle Ukrainian troops along the Izyum-Slovyansk-Debaltseve line in eastern Ukraine in favour of shallower encirclements of the cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk in Luhansk.

However, it was “unclear if Russian forces can encircle, let alone capture, Severodonetsk and Lysychansk even if they focus their efforts on that much-reduced objective”, the institute said.

Russian offensives have bogged down every time they hit a built-up area throughout this war, and these areas are unlikely to be different.

Continued and expanding reports of demoralisation and refusals to fight among Russian units suggest that the effective combat power of Russian troops in the east continues to be low and may drop further.

If the Russians abandon efforts to advance from Izyum, moreover, Ukrainian forces would be able to concentrate their efforts on defending Severodonetsk-Lysychansk or, in the worst case, breaking a Russian encirclement before those settlements fall.

However, the thinktank also noted Russian forces probably control almost all of the city of Rubizhne as of 12 May and have most likely seized the town of Voevodivka, north of Severodonetsk.

They will likely launch a ground offensive on or around Severodonetsk in the coming days. The relative success of Russian operations in this area combined with their failure to advance from Izyum and the notable decline in the energy of that attempted advance suggest that they may be giving up on the Izyum axis.

The report also noted that Russian forces were strengthening their position on Snake Island, in the Black Sea, in a bid to block Ukrainian maritime communications near they key port city of Odesa.

Ukraine says it has damaged a Russian navy logistics ship near Snake Island, a small but strategic outpost in the Black Sea, Reuters reports.

“Thanks to the actions of our naval seamen, the support vessel Vsevolod Bobrov caught fire – it is one of the newest in the Russian fleet,” said Serhiy Bratchuk, a spokesman for the Odesa regional military administration.

Reuters could not independently verify the details. Russia’s defence ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A satellite image shows a Russian Serna-class landing craft and possible missile contrail near Snake Island, Ukraine.
A satellite image shows a Russian Serna-class landing craft and possible missile contrail near Snake Island, Ukraine. Photograph: Maxar Technologies/Reuters

Satellite imagery provided by Maxar, a private US-based company, showed the aftermath of what it said were probable missile attacks on a Russian Serna-class landing craft near the island, close to Ukraine’s sea border with Romania.

Images also showed recent damage to buildings on the island, which became famous for the foul-mouthed defiance of its Ukrainian defenders early in the invasion.

Renewed fighting around Snake Island in recent days may become a battle for control of the western Black Sea coast, according to some defence officials, as Russian forces struggle to make headway in Ukraine’s north and east.

Russian commander set to go on trial for war crimes in Kyiv

Daniel Boffey

Daniel Boffey

A court in Kyiv will hear the first war crime trial since the invasion began when a Russian soldier accused of murdering a 62-year-old civilian appears in the dock on Friday, the Guardian’s Daniel Boffey reports.

The defendant who will appear at Kyiv’s district court is Vadim Shysimarin, a 21-year-old commander of the Kantemirovskaya tank division, who is currently in Ukrainian custody.

It is alleged Shysimarin, a sergeant, had been fighting in the Sumy region in north-east Ukraine when he killed a civilian on 28 February in the village of Chupakhivka.

He is accused of shooting at a civilian car after his convoy of military vehicles had come under attack from Ukrainian forces. He then drove the car away with four other soldiers as he sought to flee Ukrainian fighters.

Shysimarin shot dead the unarmed man, who was on a bicycle and talking on his phone, after being ordered “to kill a civilian so he would not report them to Ukrainian defenders”, according to prosecutors.

Read on here:

Don’t lift sanctions on Russia till all troops have left Ukraine, Truss says

International sanctions on Russia should remain in place until all its troops have left Ukraine, UK foreign secretary Liz Truss has told a meeting of her G7 counterparts in Germany according to the BBC.

“Putin is humiliating himself on the world stage. We must ensure he faces a defeat in Ukraine that denies him any benefit and ultimately constrains further aggression,” she said.

UK foreign secretary Liz Truss.
UK foreign secretary Liz Truss. Photograph: Tayfun Salcı/ZUMA Press Wire/REX/Shutterstock

She also said that Ukraine’s allies should commit to more sanctions against Russia and that they should go “further and faster” to support it in its war.

“The best long-term security for Ukraine will come from it being able to defend itself. That means providing Ukraine with a clear pathway to Nato-standard equipment,” she said.

Truss has been accused of taking a risky approach to the war, one that could risk inflaming the situation further and endangering any peace talks or chances of de-escalation.

Welcome summary

Hello, this is Helen Livingstone bringing you the latest developments on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Here’s a roundup of the latest:

  • A court in Kyiv will hear the first war crime trial of the invasion. Vadim Shysimarin, 21, a commander in Russia’s Kantemirovskaya tank division, is accused of shooting dead an unarmed man, 62, who was on a bicycle and talking on his phone in the village of Chupakhivka, Sumy. Shysimarin was ordered “to kill a civilian so he would not report them to Ukrainian defenders”, according to prosecutors.
  • International sanctions on Russia should only be lifted when all its troops have left Ukraine, UK foreign secretary Liz Truss has told a meeting of her G7 counterparts according to the BBC. “We must ensure he [Putin] faces a defeat in Ukraine that denies him any benefit,” she said.
  • The Russian foreign ministry in Moscow said it would have to take “military-technical” steps if Helsinki applied for Nato accession, after Finland’s president, Sauli Niinistö, and prime minister, Sanna Marin, said it must apply to join the military alliance “without delay”. Sweden is expected to follow within days.
  • Russia could cut its gas supplies to Finland on Friday, a day after Finnish leaders said they would apply to join Nato, according to reports.
  • The Republican senator Rand Paul has blocked the passage of a $40bn aid bill for Ukraine in the US Senate. Paul demanded changes including an inspector general to oversee how it is spent.
  • Michael Carpenter, the US ambassador to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), said that “at least several thousand Ukrainians” have been sent to so-called “filtration centres” in Russia where they are subject to “brutal interrogations”. Tens of thousands more had been evacuated to Russia or Russia-controlled territory. Carpenter said that one survivor said “everyone was afraid to be taken to Donetsk”, where they could be the victim of “further investigation or murder”.
  • Urgent measures to break the Russian blockade of grain exports from Ukraine’s ports, including by trying to open routes through Romania and the Baltic, are being discussed at a three-day meeting of G7 foreign and agriculture ministers in Germany. Before the war, most of the food produced by Ukraine – enough to feed 400 million people – was exported through its seven Black Sea ports.
  • Ukraine claimed it had damaged and set on fire a Russian navy logistics ship in the Black Sea. The Vsevolod Bobrov was near Snake Island, said Serhiy Bratchuk, a spokesman for the Odesa regional military administration in southern Ukraine. The Guardian could not independently verify the details and Russia’s defence ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
  • Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, said “very difficult negotiations” were ongoing to evacuate 38 seriously wounded fighters from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, in exchange for Russian prisoners of war. “We work step by step,’” he said. “We will exchange 38, then we will move on.”
  • The number of people who have fled Ukraine to escape Russia’s invasion has exceeded six million, the UN’s refugee agency has said. A further eight million people have been displaced inside Ukraine.
  • The UN’s human rights council has passed a resolution to investigate alleged abuses by Russian troops in parts of Ukraine formerly under their control, with a view to holding those responsible to account. The resolution passed by a strong majority, with 33 members voting in favour and two – China and Eritrea – against. There were 12 abstentions.

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