Kiev — Like the brutal of Russiaenters its 11th week, new allegations of war crimes by Russian troops are emerging almost daily. In some of the latest, Ukrainian officials say Vladimir Putin’s forces attacked two schools in the north of the country, killing three people and wounding 12.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russian commanders “who give such orders” are “simply sick and incurable”.
These reports emerged as the first trial of a Russian soldier accused ofstarted on Thursday: Russian Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin, 21, is accused of shooting a 62-year-old Ukrainian civilian in the head in the northeastern village of Chupakhivka in the early days of the war. He could face life imprisonment if he is convicted.
Journalists entered a small courtroom in Kiev on Friday when Shishimarin appeared in a defendant’s glass cage.
Shishimarin is part of a Russian tank unit that was captured by Ukrainian forces after being driven out by Ukrainian troops north of the capital just days after the invasion began on 24 February. He admitted to shooting the man in the incident, which Ukrainian officials say was captured on video by the State Security Service.
“I was ordered to shoot,” Shishimarin says in a confession video, which appears to have been edited by Ukrainian authorities. “I shot him. He falls. And we kept going.”
Ukraine’s national security service called Shishimarin’s video statement “one of the first confessions by enemy invaders”.
But while a Russian soldier was held accountable, reports of atrocities continue to mount, and as CBS News correspondent Debora Patta reported on Friday, battles continue to rage across a vast swath of eastern Ukraine.
What Russia has lacked in military strategy so far, it makes up for in brute force and a seemingly endless supply of deadly artillery.
Zelenskyy said Russian bombs fell on two school buildings near the northern city of Chernihiv late on Thursday.
“What’s the point of destroying schools?” he asked in his nightly address to the people of Ukraine. “The Russian state is in such a state that any education only gets in the way.”
In the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukrainian soldierssurprisingly they continued to hold Russian troops with whatever reserve they had left.
In the northeast, Ukrainian troops have been steadily pushing Russian forces back from the country’s second-largest city, Kharkiv.
But for Ukraine’s civilians, Patta says the 11 weeks of endless misery are taking a devastating toll. In the village of Stepanki, the 52-year-old daughter of Olga Karpenko could not hide from the Russian tank that fired directly at her house.
It wasn’t safe to remove her daughter’s body from the rubble, leaving Karpenko to relive the trauma every day.
“She didn’t die right away,” said the grieving mother. “She suffered for almost a whole day.”
Where the brutality of Russia’s war continues in the east, allegations of further atrocities continue to emerge. Where Putin’s forces retreated, all they left behind was heartbreak.