Russian soldier pleads guilty to killing civilian at first Ukraine war crimes trial

ITV News Correspondent Rachel Younger reports on the first, of what is likely to be many, war crime trials in Ukraine

A 21-year-old Russian soldier has pleaded guilty to killing a Ukrainian civilian in the first war crimes trial of the conflict.

Sergeant Vadim Shishimarin pleaded guilty to the charges during his trial in Kyiv on Wednesday, he faces life in prison.

He admitted to killing Oleksandr Shelypov after allegedly shooting him in the head through an open car window in a village in the northeastern Sumy region on February 28, four days into the invasion.

Mr Shelypov's wife Kateryna Shelypova told ITV News that her husband, who served with the KGB during the Soviet era, was killed just outside their home, close to where Russian troops were allegedly trying to enter a neighbour's property."They have brought too much grief to us," she said, referring to Russian soldiers, whose actions, she said, are unforgivable.

"Too many children have died. There has been too much brutality."

ITV News Correspondent Dan Rivers perviously spoke to Oleksandr Shelypov's widow

Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova has previously said her office was readying war crimes cases against 41 Russian soldiers for offences including bombing civilian infrastructure, killing civilians, rape and looting.

It was not immediately clear how many of the suspects are in Ukrainian hands and how many could be tried in absentia.Prosecutors plan to continue presenting evidence against Shishimarin following his guilty plea, although the trial is like to be shorter.

Ms Venediktova’s office has said it was looking into more than 10,700 potential war crimes involving more than 600 suspects, including Russian soldiers and government officials.Shishimarin's trial opened on Friday when he made a brief court appearance while lawyers and judges discussed procedural matters.

Vadim Shishimarin admitted to killing the pensioner. Credit: AP

After his plea on Wednesday, the proceedings were paused until Thursday, when the trial is expected to resume in a large courtroom to accommodate more journalists.Ms Venediktova said on Facebook that Shishimarin was among a group of Russian troops that fled Ukrainian forces on February 28.

The Russians allegedly fired at a private car and seized the vehicle, then drove to Chupakhivka, a village about 200 miles east of Kyiv.On the way, the prosecutor-general alleged, the Russian soldiers saw Mr Shelypov walking on the pavement and talking on his phone.

Shishimarin was ordered to kill him so he wouldn’t be able to report them to Ukrainian military authorities.

Vadim Shishimarin is still expected to face a trial despite pleading guilty. Credit: AP

Ms Venediktova did not identify who gave the order.

Shishimarin fired his Kalashnikov rifle through the open window and hit the victim in the head, Ms Venediktova wrote.

“The man died on the spot just a few dozen meters from his house,” she said.

The Security Service of Ukraine, known as the SBU, posted a short video on May 4 of Shishimarin speaking in front of camera and briefly describing how he shot the man.

The SBU described the video as “one of the first confessions of the enemy invaders.”

“I was ordered to shoot,” Shishimarin said. “I shot one (round) at him. He falls. And we kept on going.”

Russia is believed to be preparing war crime trials for Ukrainian soldiers.