Ukraine’s top prosecutor on Wednesday revealed plans for the first war criminal trial of a captured Russian soldier as fighting raged in the eastern and southern parts of the country. Finland is expected to announce its intention to join NATO with Sweden, which is likely to follow soon, diplomats and officials said, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine reshapes European security. Follow FRANCE 24’s live blog for the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT + 2).
06:55: Ukraine is held for the first trial against war crimes
Ukraine, which has repeatedly accused Russian troops of committing atrocities, has announced that it will hold its first war crimes trial over the Russian invasion.
The prosecutor’s office said Vadim Shishimarin, a 21-year-old Russian official, was accused of killing an unarmed 62-year-old civilian while fleeing with four other soldiers in a stolen car.
“The man died on the spot just a few dozen meters from his home,” said a statement from prosecutor Iryna Venediktova’s office. Shishimarin risks life in prison if convicted.
Venice’s office has said it has received reports of more than 10,000 alleged war crimes, with 622 suspects identified.
02:50: NATO welcomes Nordic members as Ukraine pushes back Russian forces
Finland is expected to announce on Thursday its intention to join NATO and Sweden will probably follow soon, diplomats and officials said, when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine reshapes European security and the Atlantic military alliance.
NATO Allies expect Finland and Sweden to be granted membership quickly, five diplomats and officials told Reuters, paving the way for an increased troop presence in the Nordic region during the one-year ratification period. Read the whole story
In the greater Nordic region, Norway, Denmark and the three Baltic states are already members of NATO, and the addition of Finland and Sweden would probably irritate Moscow, which says that NATO enlargement is a direct threat to its own security.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has cited the issue as a reason for his actions in Ukraine, which has also expressed a desire to eventually join the alliance.
01:00: Pro-Moscow leaders in the occupied region try to join Russia
The Russian-occupied Kherson region of Ukraine plans to ask President Vladimir Putin to incorporate it into Russia by the end of 2022, Russia’s news agency TASS reported on Wednesday, citing the military-civilian administration there.
Kherson is the first region to be annexed since Moscow launched its military campaign in February, saying it needed to disarm Ukraine and protect its Russian-speakers from “fascists”. That justification has been dismissed by Ukraine and the Western world as an unfounded pretext for an imperialist war of aggression.
The Kremlin said it was up to the people living in the region to decide whether they wanted to join Russia.
But Hennadiy Lahuta, the ousted Ukrainian governor of the Kherson region, told reporters in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro that the people just wanted “a quick liberation and return to their homeland, their mother – Ukraine”.
21:07: US ambassador to Russia met with Russian officials on narrow issues, says Foreign Ministry
US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan met with Russian officials on Wednesday to discuss a wide range of issues in the bilateral relationship, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ned Price said.
“Ambassador Sullivan discusses issues in the bilateral relationship with his Russian counterparts. These tend to be quite narrow. In many cases, these tend to be centered on how our embassy works,” Price told a daily news briefing.
21:03: Germany says it evaluates Russia’s announcement of sanctions against Gazprom Germania
Germany is investigating an announcement from Russia that it is imposing sanctions on parts of Gazprom Germany, a spokesman for the Ministry of Economy said on Wednesday, adding that it has no details.
“The German government and the Federal Network Agency, as the administrator of Gazprom Germania, are already taking the necessary precautions and preparing for different scenarios,” the spokesman said in a statement.
21:00: More than 560 Ukrainian National Guard soldiers were killed in war, says Kyiv
More than 560 soldiers from Ukraine’s National Guard, a force that includes the Azov Regiment currently housed in Mariupol’s steelworks, have been killed since the war with Russia began, its leader said on Wednesday. In addition to 561 deathA further 1,697 soldiers had been wounded since the invasion began on February 24, National Guard chief Oleksiy Nadtochy said in an online briefing.
Wednesday’s statement marked a rare move as both Ukrainian and Russian officials have been tight-lipped about their losses in the war.
20:08: Ukraine proposes that injured Azovstal defenders be replaced by Russian prisoners
Ukraine has proposed to Russia that severely injured defenders at the Azovstal facility in the port of Mariupol be replaced by Russian prisoners of war, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Wednesday.
“There is no agreement yet. Negotiations continue,she said in an online post.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)