A Russian soldier pleaded guilty to killing a civilian.
Ukraine is still holding onto the Azovstal steelworks plant in Mariupol. Russia said hundreds of people surrendered except for the top commanders.
Russia claimed 694 Ukrainian soldiers surrendered at Azovstal today, bringing the total to 959 since Monday.
The Russian Foreign Ministry blasted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for saying it was a rescue mission:
Moscow says nearly 1,000 fighters trapped in Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks have been evacuated to areas held by Russian-backed rebels.
Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova tells Sputnik Radio, a Russian state-operated station, that Zelensky’s statement is “a masterpiece that has come from the pen of those who create in the Kvartal 95 Studio” – a reference to a TV production company created by Zelensky before he become head of state.
“I’m left with the impression that they are writing a new series or a text for their next corporate event,” she adds, claiming Russia is behind the plan to evacuate the Ukrainian fighters from the steelworks.
Zakharova says for the Ukrainian authorities to claim it’s been a humanitarian operation organised by Kyiv “demonstrates their lies and propaganda based on the lies that they have been using all this time”. She also claims Ukraine has “learned to lie” from “American and Nato specialists”.
The pro-Russian separatists said they will send the Ukrainian fighters to court:
According to Russian news agency Tass, Donetsk separatist leader Denis Pushilin says “if the opponent has laid down his arms, the court decides the future fate”.
He says any Ukrainians who are found to be “neo-Nazi war criminals” should face an international tribunal.
Pushilin says the top commanders at the steelworks are still inside the plant and have yet to surrender, Reuters reports, citing local media.
Finland and Sweden
Finland and Sweden handed in their NATO applications today:
The alliance’s secretary general Jens Stoltenberg says it is “a historic moment, which we must seize”, adding that the Nordic countries’ membership would increase shared security.
The two nations’ leaders announced their intention to apply for membership of the defence alliance on Sunday, in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Swedish parliament voted in favour on Monday, with Finland’s doing the same yesterday.
Finland shares a lengthy land and sea border with Russia. Both it and neighbouring Sweden remained neutral throughout the Cold War so their applications to join Nato mark a significant change in stance.
The process could be fast-tracked to only take a few weeks but would require the support of all 30 members, ratification of which could take up to a year. The Turkish government has voiced opposition.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson are due to meet US President Joe Biden at the White House tomorrow to discuss topics including the Nato applications, European security and support for Ukraine.
Russian Soldier Pleads Guilty
A Russian soldier pleaded guilty to killing a civilian:
The soldier, Sgt. Vadim Shyshimarin, pleaded guilty to shooting a 62-year-old man on a bicycle in the village of Chupakhivka in the Sumy region, about 200 miles east of Kyiv, four days after Russia’s full-scale invasion began on Feb. 24.
Asked by the presiding judge whether he accepted his guilt, Sergeant Shyshimarin said: “Yes. Fully yes.”
The trial has drawn widespread media and public interest. On Wednesday, the courtroom and an overflow room were crowded with members of the local and international news media, and the trial is being broadcast on YouTube.
The prosecutor, Andriy Sinyuk, described the hearing as an “unprecedented procedure” in which “a serviceman of a different country is accused of murdering a civilian of Ukraine.”
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