Ukraine offers to swap prisoners for hurt Mariupol fighters

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Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said the soldier could get up to 15 years in prison. She did not say when his trial would start…reports Asian Lite News

Ukraine offered to release Russian prisoners of war in exchange for the safe evacuation of the badly injured fighters trapped inside a steel mill in the ruined city of Mariupol, as Kyiv began preparing for its first war crimes trial of a captured Russian soldier.

While fighting raged in Ukraine’s east and south, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Wednesday that negotiations were underway to release the injured fighters who are holed up in the last bastion of Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol. She said there were different options, but “none of them is ideal.”

Ukraine also shut down a pipeline that carries Russian gas to Western Europe, and a Kremlin-installed politician in the southern Kherson region said officials there want Russian President Vladimir Putin to annex it.

That was something at least one resident contested: “All people in Kherson are waiting for our troops to come as soon as possible,” said a teacher who gave only her first name, Olga, out of fear of retaliation. “Nobody wants to live in Russia or join Russia.”

Ukraine’s top prosecutor said her office charged Russian Sgt. Vadin Shyshimarin, 21, in the killing of an unarmed 62-year-old civilian who was gunned down while riding a bicycle in February, four days into the war. Shyshimarin, who served with a tank unit, was accused of firing through a car window on the man in the northeastern village of Chupakhivka.

Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said the soldier could get up to 15 years in prison. She did not say when his trial would start. Venediktova’s office has said it has been investigating more than 10,700 allegations of war crimes committed by Russian forces and has identified over 600 suspects.

Many of the atrocities came to light last month after Moscow’s forces aborted their bid to capture Kyiv and withdrew from around the capital, exposing mass graves and streets and yards strewn with bodies in towns such as Bucha. Residents told of killings, burnings, rape, torture and dismemberment.

Volodymyr Yavorskyy of the Center for Civil Liberties said the Ukrainian human rights group will be closely following Shyshimarin’s trial to see if it is fair. “It’s very difficult to observe all the rules, norms and neutrality of the court proceedings in wartime,” he said.

On the economic front, Ukraine shut down a pipeline that carries Russian gas across Ukraine to homes and industries in Western Europe, marking the first time since the start of the war that Kyiv disrupted the westward flow of one of Moscow’s most lucrative exports.

The move was made, Ukraine’s natural gas pipeline operator said, to stop Russian gas flowing through a station in part of eastern Ukraine controlled by Moscow-backed separatists because enemy forces were interfering with the station’s operation and siphoning gas.

The immediate effect is likely to be limited, in part because Russia can divert the gas to another pipeline and because Europe relies on a variety of suppliers. Still, the cutoff underscored the broader risk to gas supplies from the war.

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