Kyiv — As Russia’s brutalenters its 11th week, fresh allegations of war crimes by Russian troops are surfacing almost daily. In some of the latest, Ukrainian officials claim that Vladimir Putin’s forces attacked two schools in the country’s north, killing three people and wounded 12.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russian commanders “who give such orders” were “simply sick and incurable.”
Those reports surfaced as the first trial of a Russian soldier accused of abegan on Thursday: Russian Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin, 21, stands accused of shooting a 62-year-old Ukrainian civilian man in the head in the northeastern village of Chupakhivka in the early days of the war. He faces up to life in prison if convicted.
Journalists filed into a small courtroom in Kyiv on Friday as Shishimarin appeared in a glass defendant’s cage.
Shishimarin is part of a Russian tank unit that was captured by Ukrainian forces after being driven back by Ukrainian troops from north of the capital city just several days after the invasion began on February 24. He has 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 appeared to have been edited by Ukrainian authorities. “I shot one (round) at him. He falls. And we kept on going.”
Ukraine’s national security service has called Shishimarin’s video statement “one of the first confessions of the enemy invaders.”
But while one Russian soldier was being held to account, reports of atrocities continue to mount, and as CBS News correspondent Debora Patta reported on Friday, battles continue to rage across a vast swathe of eastern Ukraine.
What Russia has lacked in military strategy so far, it makes up for with brute force, and a seemingly endless supply of deadly artillery.
Zelenskyy said Russian shells rained down on two school buildings near the northern city of Chernihiv on Thursday night.
“What’s the point of destroying schools?” he asked in his nightly address to Ukraine’s people. “The Russian state is in such a state that any education only gets in its way.”
In the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukrainian soldierswere astoundingly continuing to hold off Russian troops with every bit of reserve they have left.
In the northeast, Ukraine’s troops have steadily pushed Russia’s forces back from the country’s second largest city of Kharkiv.
But for Ukraine’s civilians, Patta says the 11 weeks of endless misery is taking a devastating toll. In the village of Stepanki, 52-year-old Olga Karpenko’s daughter couldn’t hide from the Russian tank that fired directly at her house.
It hasn’t been safe enough to remove her daughter’s body from the rubble, leaving Karpenko to relive the trauma every day.
“She didn’t die straight away,” the bereaved mother said. “She suffered for almost a whole day.”
Where the brutality of Russia’s war continues in the east, allegations of new atrocities continue to emerge. Where Putin’s forces have been turned back, all they leave behind is heartbreak.