A Russian soldier Vadim Shishimarin was sentenced by a court in Kiev to life in prison for war crimes. Prosecutors accused the 21-year-old sergeant of killing an elderly civilian in the northeastern Sumy Region of Ukraine during the first days of the Russian military offensive, which was launched in February.
The Russian serviceman received the harshest punishment under Ukrainian law, as the death penalty has been banned in the country since 2000.
Shishimarin has violated the rules and customs of war and should be found guilty and given a penalty of life in prison, the judge said.
Shishimarin's lawyers say they are going to appeal the ruling, with plans to go to the European Court of Human Rights if higher Ukrainian courts uphold the sentence.
On Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow was concerned with the soldier's trial, especially considering Russia lacked the ability to protect his interests on site. Russian institutions are unable to carry out their activities in Ukraine, according to Peskov. He said that this doesn't mean that we won't consider the possibility of continuing attempts to help the serviceman through other channels.
Since the beginning of the conflict, Russia insists that it isn't targeting civilians, while only hitting Ukrainian forces and military infrastructure.
Moscow has launched numerous criminal cases against members of the Ukrainian military over the mistreatment of Russian POWs, shelling of residential areas in Donbass and inside Russia, and other violations.
Russia launched an offensive against Ukraine in late February after Kiev s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself as a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists that the Russian offensive was unprovoked and has denied that it was planning to retake the two republics by force.