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The Guardian - AU

Biden: US will work with Finland and Sweden in event of ‘aggression’ – as it happened

Destruction at the Ilyich steelworks in Mariupol.
Destruction at the Ilyich steelworks in Mariupol. Photograph: Sergei Ilnitsky/EPA

This blog is closing now but we’ll beack in a few hours with more rolling updates on the war in Ukraine.

In the meantime you can read all our coverage of the conflict here.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy has posted an update on Telegram about the ongoing evacuations from the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol.

Ukrainian troops leave the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine.
Ukrainian troops leave the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine. Photograph: AP

He says that after much negotiation there were “two days of real ceasefire” and the first evacuees from Azovstal would arrive in Zaporizhzhia on Thursday morning.

More than a hundred civilians have already been evacuated - women and children fleeing hostilities there. At Azovstal. Given all the complexities of the process, the first evacuees will arrive in Zaporizhzhia tomorrow morning. Our team will meet them there. I hope that tomorrow all the necessary conditions will be met to continue the evacuation of people from Mariupol. We plan to start at 8 am.

You can read a full report from my colleague Dominic Rushe on what’s happening with the markets. One of the concerns is that the US Federal Reserve may have to riase interest rates more aggressively if inflation – currently 8.26% in the US and 9% in the UK – does not ease soon.

Hello, I’m Martin Farrer taking over from Maanvi.

The conflict in Ukraine is one of the reasons why the financial markets have got a bad case of the jitters in recent weeks.

Despite some better days on stock markets this week, Wall Street has just endured a torrid session. The Dow Jones closed down 3.57% on Wednesday and the broader S&P was off 4.04% _ its worst day since June 2020.

Investors pointed to concerns about growth in the US thanks to the threat to global prospects from the war in Ukraine, inflation and continued supply chain shocks from China lockdowns.

For example, this chart shows the UN’s food and agricultural price index, in no small part thanks to Russia’s Black Sea blockade preventing Ukrainian grain from going to market.

Catch up

  • A Russian tank commander has pleaded guilty to shooting dead a civilian on a bicycle, in Ukraine’s first trial for war crimes committed during the Russian invasion. Vadim Shysimarin, 21, has been accused of firing his AK-47 at a 62-year-old man from the window of a car in the north-eastern Sumy region in late February.
  • The European Commission has proposed an extra €9bn (£7.6bn) in EU loans to Ukraine to keep the country running as well as a €210bn plan for Europe to end its reliance on Russian fossil fuels by 2027. Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said the €9bn support package would “help Ukraine win the war, overcome the consequences of Russian forces’ aggression and accelerate the movement towards EU membership”.
  • The US embassy in Kyiv has resumed operations, the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said after nearly three months of closure. A small number of diplomats will return initially to staff the embassy, according to a spokesperson.
  • At least 10 Ukrainian civilians, including two children, were killed by Russian forces Donetsk, regional governor Pavlo Kirilenko said. A further seven people had been injured, he said.
  • In his nightly address, Zelenskiy said Russia’s alleged use of laser weapons systems “indicates the complete failure of the invasion”. Russia has claimed it is using a new generation laser weapons to burn up drones.

– Léonie Chao-Fong, Joanna Walters

In his nightly address, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Russia’s alleged use of laser weapons systems “indicates the complete failure of the invasion”.

He said:

Today, one of the representatives of the Russian state said that the occupiers allegedly began to use laser weapons systems in Ukraine. Allegedly to save missiles.

Firstly, it is noteworthy that they need to save missiles and somehow explain it. That is, more than two thousand missiles fired by the Russian army at Ukraine were the main part of their stockpile of missiles. That is, only the remnants are left.

Secondly, everyone has already seen Russia at war. Inexperienced conscripts, which it throws into battle like cannon fodder. Marauders who see normal appliances for the first time in a foreign country. Old Soviet “armor” without modern protection. Forbidden phosphorous bombs, which they use to burn schools and ordinary houses.

And missiles, most of which were spent by the Russian army on the destruction of absolutely civilian infrastructure without any strategic military outcome. Today they hit missiles in such a way at Mykolaiv and Dnipro.

Well, in the propaganda of Nazi Germany there was such a term “wunderwaffe”. Wonder weapon. The clearer it became they had no chance in the war, the more propaganda there was about the wonder weapon, which would be so powerful that it would provide a turning point in the war.

And here we see that in the third month of a full-scale war, Russia is trying to find its “wunderwaffe”. Allegedly laser. All this clearly indicates the complete failure of the invasion.

Russia has said it is using a new generation laser weapons to burn up drones, according to Reuters. Per the agency:

President Vladimir Putin in 2018 unveiled an array of new weapons including a new intercontinental ballistic missile, underwater nuclear drones, a supersonic weapon and a new laser weapon.

Little is known about the specifics of the new laser weapons. Putin mentioned one called Peresvet, named after a medieval Orthodox warrior monk Alexander Peresvet who perished in mortal combat.

Yury Borisov, the deputy prime minister in charge of military development, told a conference in Moscow that Peresvet was already being widely deployed and it could blind satellites up to 1,500 km above Earth.

Updated

The US secretary of state, Tony Blinken, announced an additional $215m in food assistance to Ukraine.

“Given the urgency of the crisis, we’re announcing another $215m in new emergency food assistance, and we’ll do much more,” he said, while speaking at the United Nations. The US will also be allocating $500m to boost fertilizer production, and provide it for counties that previously imported fertilizer from Russia.

Why has Erdoğan doubled down on threat to veto Nordic Nato bids?

After initial hesitation about the seriousness of Turkey’s objections, its president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has doubled down on his threat to veto Finland’s and Sweden’s applications for membership of Nato, saying there is no point in either country sending delegations to Ankara to persuade him otherwise.

On Wednesday, he also extended his demands from the two he outlined on Monday to 10, leading to claims that he is using blackmail.

At his press conference on Monday, he made two key demands: that Finland and Sweden end their supposed support for the Kurdish Workers’ party (PKK), which Turkey regards as a terrorist organisation, and that they lift their ban on arms exports imposed in October 2019 after the Turkish incursion in northern Syria.

No one doubts that Erdoğan’s intervention could tangle Nato up in knots for months. It is now the task of alliance diplomats to establish Erdoğan’s seriousness and the price that would have to be paid to make him back down, and prevent a full-blown Nato crisis.

The Swedish foreign minister, Ann Linde, initially hoped that something had got lost in translation after she had been quoted in the Turkish press saying the Turks regard all Kurds as terrorists. Linde said on Sunday she had never made these remarks, had never met the PKK, and would not do so.

She was cautiously optimistic that any misunderstanding could be cleared up, but by Wednesday it was clear her reassurances were falling short of what Erdoğan requires.

The Nordic political class initially appeared sceptical about Erdoğan’s seriousness. Finland’s president, Sauli Niinistö, said he spoke with Erdoğan a month ago and none of his current concerns were aired. It was also being said that no early warning flares were sent up by Turkey’s Nato ambassador, Basat Öztürk.

But that assessment is changing. Jonathan Eyal, the associate director of the Rusi thinktank, said Erdoğan “lives on the edge and operates through brinkmanship”.

Eyal added: “Many of his demands about the PKK are part of a familiar Turkish tune. But he has domestic reasons to be standing up to America. The economy is in tatters and his popularity is at an all time low.”

With inflation at 66.9% and facing elections next summer, there is no harm galvanising the nationalist vote, but that is not to say Erdoğan’s complaints are entirely synthetic.

Read more:

An interesting graphic of the war in Ukraine so far, showing Russian advances followed by retreats, and the areas where the invading Russian forces are solidly in control at this point.

The map has been tweeted out by a project within the US conservative think-tank the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, FYI.

It also takes a couple of views to be able to absorb the different codes and colour schemes. But it is still a useful visual.

At least 10 Ukrainian civilians, including two children, were killed by Russian forces in the eastern region of Donetsk on Wednesday, regional governor Pavlo Kirilenko said in an online message, Reuters reports.

Kirilenko, who did not give details, said a further seven people had been injured.

Meanwhile, in Moscow, this:

Some interesting new images and clips coming out from south-eastern Ukraine on the home country’s efforts there to continue to combat the Russian invasion, and the price being paid.

First the destruction of a bridge outside of Severodonetsk by Ukrainian forces, among many sabotage events to slow Russia’s military machine.

Then the aftermath of a Russian airstrike in Bakhmut that took five Ukrainian civilian lives, according to Iuliia Mendel, a former spokesperson for Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

And here is some footage of Russian MI-35M combat helicopters in action in eastern Ukraine, although the exact location and context are not clear.

Joe Biden said on Wednesday he thought the bids by Sweden and Finland to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) would be successful, despite objections raised by Turkey to their applications.

The US president answered some reporters questions while he was at Joint Base Andrews, the military air base just outside Washington, DC, to which the president is often transported by the Marine One helicopter before boarding Air Force One for official trips.

“I’m gonna say one thing ... I got a call months ago from the president of Finland, wanted to come and see me, I saw him, he told me what he was thinking about. And I got a call that both the leader of Finland and Sweden are coming to see me on Thursday. I think we’re gonna be okay.”

From that slightly cryptic remark came a reporter’s follow-up.

“Can you convince Turkey?” in terms of the Nordic countries’ admissions to the US-led military defence alliance.

“I’m not going to Turkey, but I think we’re gonna be okay,” he said.

Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden step off Marine One prior to receiving a briefing on interagency efforts to prepare for and respond to hurricanes this season at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, USA. 18 May 2022. The First Lady is departing on a trip to Ecuador.
Joe Biden and the First Lady Jill Biden step off Marine One before receiving a briefing on interagency efforts to prepare for and respond to hurricanes this season at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, US, 18 May 2022. The First Lady is departing on a trip to Ecuador. Photograph: Shawn Thew/EPA

Updated

The US Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, of New York, has announced that the Senate will likely approve on Thursday the $40bn (£32bn) bill for providing funds for the war in Ukraine.

The funds include a mix of military and humanitarian aid. The bill was expected to be passed by the Senate last week, having been passed by the House with bipartisan support. But the Kentucky Republican and libertarian gadfly Rand Paul blocked the bill.

On Wednesday, Schumer took a moment to chastise Paul for being the only lawmaker to object to the passage of the aid package.

“This should already have been done and over with,” Schumer said.

“But it is repugnant that one member of the other side, the junior senator from Kentucky, chose to make a show and obstruct Ukraine funding knowing full well he couldn’t actually stop its passage. For senator Paul to delay Ukraine funding for purely political motives is to only strengthen Putin’s hand.”

The national security advisor Jake Sullivan said in a live media briefing in Washington there was “a chorus” of support for the aid package.

Updated

Summary

It is 9pm in Kyiv. Here’s where we stand:

  • A Russian tank commander has pleaded guilty to shooting dead a civilian on a bicycle, in Ukraine’s first trial for war crimes committed during the Russian invasion. Vadim Shysimarin, 21, has been accused of firing his AK-47 at a 62-year-old man from the window of a car in the north-eastern Sumy region in late February.
  • The European Commission has proposed an extra €9bn (£7.6bn) in EU loans to Ukraine to keep the country running as well as a €210bn plan for Europe to end its reliance on Russian fossil fuels by 2027. Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said the €9bn support package would “help Ukraine win the war, overcome the consequences of Russian forces’ aggression and accelerate the movement towards EU membership”.
  • The US embassy in Kyiv has resumed operations, the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said after nearly three months of closure. A small number of diplomats will return initially to staff the embassy, according to a spokesperson.

That’s it from me, Léonie Chao-Fong, today. My colleague Joanna Walters will continue to bring you all the latest news from the war in Ukraine. Thank you.

Updated

Russian forces occupying parts of north-eastern Ukraine early in the war subjected civilians to summary executions, torture, and other grave abuses that are apparent war crimes, Human Rights Watch said.

The rights organisation said it has documented 22 apparent summary executions, nine other unlawful killings, six possible enforced disappearances, and seven cases of torture across 17 villages and small towns in the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions.

More than 20 civilians described unlawful confinement in “inhuman and degrading conditions”, it said. It interviewed 65 people between 10 April and 10 March, including former detainees, torture survivors, families of victims, and other witnesses.

In one case in the village of Yahidne in the Chernihiv region, Russian forces held more than 350 villagers, including at least 70 children, five of them infants, in a schoolhouse basement for 28 days, HRW said.

A local resident Vladyslav, 17, shows a basement of a school, where he spent 28 days during Russia’s invasion, in the village of Yahidne, Ukraine.
A local resident Vladyslav, 17, shows a basement of a school, where he spent 28 days during Russia’s invasion, in the village of Yahidne, Ukraine. Photograph: Reuters

The atrocities by Russian forces committed from late February through March were described as “abhorrent, unlawful, and cruel” by Giorgi Gogia, the associate Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch, who added:

These abuses against civilians are evident war crimes that should be promptly and impartially investigated and appropriately prosecuted.

HRW has previously documented 10 summary executions in the town of Bucha and several other north-eastern towns and villages during Russian forces’ occupation early in the war.

Russia has denied targeting civilians or involvement in war crimes, instead accusing Ukraine of staging atrocities to smear its forces.

Updated

US reopens Kyiv embassy

The US embassy in Kyiv has reopened after a three-month closure, Reuters reports.

A small number of diplomats will return initially to staff the embassy, according to a spokesperson.

People watch as the US flag is raised for the first time after American diplomats returned to the embassy in Kyiv.
People watch as the US flag is raised for the first time after American diplomats returned to the embassy in Kyiv. Photograph: Edgar Su/Reuters

The American embassy in the Ukrainian capital closed on 14 February, 10 days before Russian troops invaded the country.

Several western countries, including Britain, France and Germany, have reopened their embassies in Kyiv over the past month, after Russian troops withdrew from Ukraine’s north.

Updated

Canada’s foreign minister, Mélanie Joly, said Vladimir Putin ‘cannot imagine a reality in which the press is allowed to operate without taking their marching orders from the government’.

Responding to Russia’s decision to close the Moscow bureau of the Canadian broadcaster CBC and withdraw visas and accreditation of its journalists in Russia, Joly said Canada would continue to defend the freedom of the press around the world.

Updated

A spokesperson for Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said progress on Finland and Sweden’s Nato membership bids will only be possible if concrete steps are taken to address Turkey’s national security concerns.

Erdoğan’s chief foreign policy adviser, Ibrahim Kalin, spoke with counterparts from Sweden, Finland, Germany, Britain and the United States to discuss the proposed Nato enlargement, according to a readout from Erdoğan’s office.

The readout said:

It was underlined that if Turkey’s expectations were not met, the progress of the process would not be possible.

Biden: US will work with Finland and Sweden in event of 'aggression'

The United States will work with Finland and Sweden in the event of the ‘threat of aggression’ while the two countries’ Nato membership is being considered, Joe Biden said.

The US president said he “strongly supports” the Nato bids by the two countries and said their accession would “benefit” the entire military alliance.

Biden said in a statement:

Finland and Sweden are longtime, stalwart partners of the United States. By joining Nato, they will further strengthen our defence cooperation and benefit the entire Transatlantic Alliance.

The US will maintain its “robust exercise activity and presence” in the Baltic Sea region, Biden continued:

While their applications for Nato membership are being considered, the United States will work with Finland and Sweden to remain vigilant against any threats to our shared security, and to deter and confront aggression or the threat of aggression.

Biden is set to welcome his Finnish counterpart, Sauli Niinistö, and Sweden’s prime minister, Magdalena Andersson, to the White House on Thursday in a key show of support.

Updated

Russia’s defence spending increased by nearly 40% in the first four months of the year, according to preliminary data by its finance ministry.

Russia spent 1.7tn roubles (£21bn) on defence between January and April, almost half of its total budget for 2022, Reuters reports.

In April alone, Russia spent 628bn roubles (£7.9bn) on its military, up 128% compared with the same month last year.

The ministry had initially forecast a budget surplus of 1% of GDP, or 1.3tn roubles for 2022. It now expects a deficit of at least 1.6tn roubles so that it can support payouts to counter the effect of western economic sanctions.

Updated

A Ukrainian main battle tank drives on a street during nearby mortar shelling in Severodonetsk, eastern Ukraine.
A Ukrainian main battle tank drives on a street during nearby mortar shelling in Severodonetsk, eastern Ukraine. Photograph: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty
Rescuers work at a site of an apartment building destroyed by Russian shelling in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine.
Rescuers work at a site of an apartment building destroyed by Russian shelling in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine. Photograph: Andriy Andriyenko/AP

Updated

Finland and Sweden will buy portable firearms and anti-tank weapons together, Finland’s defence ministry said, as the two countries formally handed in their applications to join Nato.

Finland will join an agreement to acquire anti-tank weapons from the Swedish weapons maker Saab Dynamics, a subsidiary of Saab, the ministry said.

Preparations are also under way for a joint purchase of small fire arms including assault rifles, shotguns and arms for personal protection, Reuters reports.

The agreement for anti-tank weapons enables purchases of missiles, recoilless rifles, ammunition and other related equipment, the ministry said.

Updated

Today so far ...

It is almost 6.30pm in Kyiv. Here’s where we stand:

  • Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, has said that there was no movement in peace talks with Ukraine, and claimed that Kyiv was showing a “complete unwillingness” to continue them. Ukraine’s negotiator, Mykhailo Podolyak, said on Thursday that peace talks with Russia had been suspended, blaming Moscow for failing to understand that the war is “no longer taking place according to its rules, its timetable, or its plans”.
  • A Russian tank commander has pleaded guilty to shooting dead a civilian on a bicycle, in Ukraine’s first trial for war crimes committed during the Russian invasion. Vadim Shysimarin, 21, has been accused of firing his AK-47 at a 62-year-old man from the window of a car in the north-eastern Sumy region in late February.
  • Sweden and Finland have formally submitted their applications to join the Nato military alliance. The Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, accepted the Nordic neighbours’ membership applications, which has marked a radical redrawing of Europe’s security landscape triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said Sweden should not expect to approve its Nato application without returning “terrorists”. Ankara has accused Sweden and Finland of harbouring people it says are linked to groups it considers terrorists. Swedish and Finnish delegations should not come to Turkey to convince it to support their bids to join the alliance, Erdoğan added.
  • The European Commission has proposed an extra €9bn in EU loans to Ukraine to keep the country running as well as a €210bn plan for Europe to end its reliance on Russian fossil fuels by 2027. Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said the €9bn support package would “help Ukraine win the war, overcome the consequences of Russian forces’ aggression and accelerate the movement towards EU membership”.
  • Russia is closing the Moscow bureau of Canada’s broadcaster, CBC, and withdrawing visas and accreditation of its journalists in Russia. The decision was taken to make “retaliatory measures in relation to the actions of Canada” after Ottawa banned Russian state TV station RT, said Russia’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova.
  • Russian authorities have seized Google Russia’s bank account, making it impossible for its Russian office to function, a Google spokesperson said. The US tech giant’s Russian subsidiary has declared its intention to file for bankruptcy after months of pressure from authorities.
  • The Russian gymnast, Ivan Kuliak, has been handed a one-year ban for wearing the letter “Z” supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine during an event in Qatar in March. The 20-year-old displayed the letter as he stood on the podium at the Apparatus World Cup in Doha.

Good afternoon from London, I’m Léonie Chao-Fong and I will continue to bring you all the latest developments on the war in Ukraine. Feel free to get in touch on Twitter or via email.

Updated

Russia is closing the Moscow bureau of Canada’s broadcaster, CBC, and withdrawing visas and accreditation of its journalists in Russia, its foreign ministry said.

The decision was taken to make “retaliatory measures in relation to the actions of Canada” after Ottawa banned Russian state TV station RT, Russia’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, told reporters.

Zakharova said:

With regret we continue to notice open attacks on the Russian media from the countries of the so-called collective West who call themselves civilised.

She accused Canada of taking a “Russophobic” path including censorship of the media.

On Tuesday, the Canadian Senate introduced a bill that would ban Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, and around 1,000 members of his government and military from entering Canada.

Updated

EU proposes €9bn in loans to Ukraine, €210bn to end Russian fossil fuels

The European Commission has proposed an extra €9bn in EU loans to Ukraine to keep the country running and to set up a ‘RebuildUkraine’ Facility of grants and loans, which will be modelled on the EU’s own recovery fund.

The money would be borrowed by the commission on the market against guarantees by EU governments under its macro-financial assistance programme to keep Ukraine going until the end of June.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has estimated that Ukraine needs around $5bn (€4.8bn) a month for basic operations. The EU has already provided €4.1bn to Ukraine since Russia invaded on 24 February, including military aid.

The EU Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, in Brussels, Belgium.
The EU Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, in Brussels, Belgium. Photograph: Thierry Monasse/Getty Images

The EU will continue to provide “short-term financial support to Ukraine to meet its needs and basic services running”, said the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, adding:

We stand ready to take a leading role in the international reconstruction efforts to help rebuild a democratic and prosperous Ukraine. This means investments will go hand-in-hand with reforms that will support Ukraine in pursuing its European path.

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said he was grateful for the support package, adding that it would “help Ukraine win the war, overcome the consequences of Russian forces’ aggression and accelerate the movement towards EU membership”.

Meanwhile, the European Commission also unveiled a €210bn plan for Europe to end its reliance on Russian fossil fuels by 2027.

The plan includes importing gas supplies from non-Russian countries, switching to renewable every, and more effort to save energy.

The measures are expected to require €210bn in extra investments by 2027 and €300bn by 2030, on top of those already needed to meet the EU’s 2030 climate target.

Updated

Emma Graham-Harrison has the full report that a Russian soldier has pleaded guilty in the first Ukraine war crimes trial since the start of the invasion:

A Russian tank commander has pleaded guilty to shooting dead a civilian on a bicycle, in Ukraine’s first trial for war crimes committed during the Russian invasion.

Vadim Shysimarin, 21, sat emotionless as prosecutors detailed charges that he had fired his AK-47 at a 62 year-old man from the window of a car in the north-eastern Sumy region in late February.

His commander allegedly told him to kill the man, an unarmed civilian, because he worried the victim might give away the position of Russian forces.

The court, presided over by three judges, will still hear testimony from witnesses including the victim’s wife and another Russian soldier who was in the car with Shysimarin, before confirming the verdict and handing down a sentence.

Prosecutors have moved fast. It is extremely unusual to hold a trial while a conflict is still ongoing, and unprecedented to do it within weeks. The victim was shot dead less than three months ago, in the first days after the invasion.

Vadim Shysimarin, 21, during the court hearing in Kyiv on Wednesday.
Vadim Shysimarin, 21, during the court hearing in Kyiv on Wednesday. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Ukrainian authorities say justice for atrocities committed by Russian forces is a priority, with investigators at times even risking their lives in areas still laced with mines or threatened by Russian forces to collect evidence that could help secure convictions.

They have the support of several teams of international investigators and forensic experts, but face a mammoth task. Hundreds of civilians were killed just in the parts of Ukraine that have been liberated from Russian forces, and dozens of rapes have been reported.

Already Ukraine’s prosector general has registered more than 11,000 war crimes, which have included attacks on hospitals. Large swathes of Ukrainian territory are still under Russian control, so the toll is expected to rise considerably if those areas can be reached.

Shysimarin, who comes from Ust Illyinsk in the south-east Irkutsk region of Russia, was a commander of the Kantemirovskaya tank division at the time of the killing, which happened on 28 February in Chupakhivka village.

Prosecutors say he shot at a car after his convoy came under attack from Ukrainian forces, then stole the car and drove it away with four other soldiers. He then used an AK-47 to shoot the unarmed man, just a few dozen metres from his home.

The man was speaking on his phone and Shysimarin was ordered “to kill a civilian so he would not report them to Ukrainian defenders”, according to prosecutors.

Read Emma Graham-Harrison’s full article here.

Russian authorities have seized Google Russia’s bank account, making it impossible for its Russian office to function, a Google spokesperson said.

The US tech giant’s Russian subsidiary has declared its intention to file for bankruptcy, Reuters reports. It comes after months of pressure from authorities for failing to delete content Moscow deems illegal and for restricting access to some Russian media on YouTube.

A spokesperson for Google said:

The Russian authorities seizure of Google Russia’s bank account has made it untenable for our Russia office to function, including employing and paying Russia-based employees, paying suppliers and vendors, and meeting other financial obligations.

Google Russia has published a notice of its intention to file for bankruptcy.

The Russian defence ministry has issued footage showing what it says are Ukrainian fighters from the Azovstal steel plant surrendering, getting searched by Russian forces and being loaded into ambulances.

The US treasury secretary Janet Yellen has claimed that sanctions against Russia have already had an enormous impact on the economy.

“Russia is experiencing recession, high inflation, acute challenges in their financial system, and the inability to procure the material and products they need to support their war or their economy,” Reuters reports Yellen told the media ahead of a meeting of G7 finance ministers in Bonn, Germany.

It is a sideshow to developments in Ukraine, but the organisers of Formula One have announced that the Russian Grand Prix will not be replaced on this year’s calendar. The race in Sochi was cancelled in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine. The F1 season, which had been set to host a record 23 meetings, will now revert to 22 races.

Read more here: F1 season cut to 22 races after Russian GP not replaced on calendar

Pjotr Sauer has this report for us on the claims by Russia this morning that hundreds more Ukrainians have surrendered from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol:

Russia says another 694 Ukrainian troops have surrendered at Mariupol’s besieged Azovstal steel plant in the past day, bringing the total number close to 1,000.

The Russian defence ministry said 29 of the soldiers were wounded. It did not say where the soldiers would be sent, though on Tuesday evening Reuters reported that seven buses carrying Ukrainian soldiers left the plant for a former prison colony in the town of Olenivka in a Russian-controlled area of Donetsk region.

Ukraine has not commented on Russia’s latest update. In his address to the nation late on Tuesday, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said an “evacuation mission” was continuing with help from “the most influential international mediators”.

The fate of the soldiers leaving the plant remains unclear, and it is also not clear how many remain inside.

Denis Pushilin, the head of the self-proclaimed republic of Donetsk, said on Wednesday that the “commanders of the highest level” were still hiding in the plant. Earlier, Ukrainian officials had said some of its soldiers remained.

The two sides in the war have released practically no details of the agreement that led to the surrender of the troops, who were holed up for weeks in an extensive network of tunnels and bunkers underneath the steelworks.

Ukraine’s deputy defence minister said on Tuesday that the soldiers would be swapped in a prisoner exchange, but a number of Russian officials on Wednesday repeated statements made a day earlier by other hardliners that the soldiers should be tried. Pushilin on Wednesday called on an “international tribunal” to be set to decide the soldiers’ “fate”.

“As for war criminals as well as those who are nationalists, their fate, if they laid down their arms, should be decided by the courts,” he said. “If the enemy has laid down arms, then his fate will be decided by the courts. If it is a Nazi criminal, then it’s a tribunal.”

Read Pjotr Sauer’s full report here: Hundreds more Ukrainians surrender at Mariupol steel plant, Russia claims

Here are some of the latest images to be sent to us over the newswires from Ukraine and beyond.

Mourners attend the funeral of Denys Antipov, a soldier and popular economics lecturer at the Kyiv School of Economics.
Mourners attend the funeral of Denys Antipov, a soldier and popular economics lecturer at the Kyiv School of Economics. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
A cat walks past burned out cars in Mariupol, in territory under the control of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.
A cat walks past burned out cars in Mariupol, in territory under the control of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. Photograph: Alexei Alexandrov/AP
A donated vehicle being painted green in Kyiv ready for use by the Ukrainian army.
A donated vehicle being painted green in Kyiv ready for use by the Ukrainian army. Photograph: Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/REX/Shutterstock
Ukrainian refugees receive aid at a refugee camp set up at the Patria-Lukoil centre in Moldova.
Ukrainian refugees receive aid at a refugee camp set up at the Patria-Lukoil centre in Moldova. Photograph: Dumitru Doru/EPA

Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak has been handed a one-year ban for wearing the letter “Z” supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine during an event in Qatar in March, the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) has said.

The 20-year-old, who won bronze in the parallel bars at the Apparatus World Cup in Doha, displayed the letter as he stood on the podium next to Ukrainian gold medallist Illia Kovtun.

Russian forces have used the letter “Z” as an identifying symbol on their vehicles in Ukraine following the invasion, which Moscow calls a “special military operation”. Supporters of the invasion have also used the sign.

Ivan Kuliak had a ‘Z’ taped across the front of his shirt.
Ivan Kuliak had a ‘Z’ taped across the front of his shirt. Photograph: Claro Sports

“Mr Kuliak breached the FIG statutes, the FIG code of discipline, the FIG code of ethics, the FIG code of conduct and the FIG technical regulations when he wore the letter ‘Z’ on his singlet,” the governing body said in a statement. “[He] is not allowed to participate in any FIG-sanctioned event or competition organised by an affiliated FIG member federation for one year as of the date of this decision.”

Kuliak was unrepentant about the display and claimed that he would always stand for peace. “I saw it with our military and looked at what this symbol means. It turned out [it means], ‘for victory’ and ‘for peace,’” he added. “I didn’t wish anything bad on anyone, I just showed my position.”

Updated

Russia’s foreign ministry said 27 Spanish diplomats must leave Russia within a week, taking today’s number of European expulsions to 85.

It comes after the ministry said it was kicking out 34 diplomatic staff from France and 24 from Italy in response to similar moves by those countries.

Last month, Russia expelled 45 Polish diplomats and 40 Germans, as well as announcing tit-for-tat moves against Finland, Romania, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Japan, among others.

Russian soldier on trial for war crimes pleads guilty to killing civilian

The first Russian soldier on trial for war crimes in Ukraine during Moscow’s invasion has pleaded guilty to killing an unarmed civilian.

Vadim Shishimarin, 21, appeared at Kyiv’s Solomyansky district court charged with war crimes and premeditated murder.

Shishimarin is accused of killing an unarmed civilian, a 62-year-old man in the northeast Ukrainian village of Chupakhivka on 28 February.

Asked in court if he was guilty of the allegations, including war crimes and premeditated murder, Shishimarin responded “yes”. If convicted, he faces up to life imprisonment.

Ukraine’s state prosecutors said Shishimarin – a sergeant from the Siberian region of Irkutsk – and four other Russian servicemen fired at and stole a privately owned car to escape after their column was targeted by Ukrainian forces.

The soldiers drove into the village of Chupakhivka where they saw an unarmed 62-year-old man riding a bicycle and talking on his phone, they said.

Prosecutors said Shishimarin was ordered by another serviceman to kill the civilian to prevent him from reporting on the Russians’ presence. Using a Kalashnikov assault rifle, he fired several shots through the open window of the car at the civilian’s head, they said. The civilian died on the spot.

Russian serviceman Vadim Shishimarin at a court hearing in the Solomyansky district court in Kyiv, Ukraine, last week.
Russian serviceman Vadim Shishimarin at a court hearing in the Solomyansky district court in Kyiv, Ukraine, last week. Photograph: Tanya Gordienko/EPA

It is the first war crimes trial since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February.

Updated

Italy’s prime minister, Mario Draghi, said Rome strongly supports Finland’s and Sweden’s Nato applications and is willing to speed up any internal procedures so the two countries can join the alliance as soon as possible.

Speaking to reporters following a meeting with Finland’s prime minister, Sanna Marin, Draghi said:

The application for Nato membership is a clear response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the threat it poses to peace in Europe, to our collective security.

Draghi also described Russia’s decision to expel 24 Italian diplomats as an “hostile act”, adding that diplomatic channels with Moscow should “absolutely not” be interrupted.

Finland’s Marin told reporters that a fast ratification of membership would be the “best security guarantee for Finland and for Sweden at this stage”.

Finland Prime Minister Sanna Marin and Italian Premier Mario Draghi at Chigi palace in Rome.
Finland Prime Minister Sanna Marin and Italian Premier Mario Draghi at Chigi palace in Rome. Photograph: Andrew Medichini/AP

Here’s some more reaction to the news that Sweden and Finland have formally applied to join Nato. Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, said Nato will be “stronger” with Nordic countries as members, adding that the security landscape in Europe “has fundamentally changed”.

Portugal’s prime minister, António Costa, said both Finland and Sweden’s applications have been welcomed “with optimism and confidence”.

Britain’s foreign secretary, Liz Truss, said the UK would work to integrate Finland and Sweden quickly.

And Germany’s justice minister, Marco Buschmann, said the German cabinet has approved Finland and Sweden’s request to join Nato and that it was “committed to a fast accession process”.

Erdoğan: Turkey will not approve Sweden's Nato bid unless 'terrorists' returned

Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said Sweden should not expect to approve its Nato application without returning “terrorists”, Reuters reports.

Swedish and Finnish delegations should not come to Turkey to convince it to support their bids to join the alliance, Erdoğan said in a speech to lawmakers from his ruling AK party.

Erdoğan said:

We have such a sensitivity as protecting our borders from attacks by terrorists organisations.

Nato expansion is only meaningful for us in proportion to the respect that will be shown to our sensitivities.

Turkey has accused Sweden and Finland of harbouring people it says are linked to groups it considers terrorists, including the Kurdistan Workers party (PKK) militant group and followers of Fethullah Gülen, whom Ankara accuses of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt.

Turkish President and leader of the Justice and Development (AK) Party Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TGNA) in Ankara.
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the Turkish grand national assembly (TGNA) in Ankara. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

On Monday, Turkey’s state broadcaster TRT Haber said Sweden and Finland had not granted approval for the repatriation of 33 people that Turkey requested.

Erdoğan added:

So you won’t give us back terrorists but you ask us for Nato membership? Nato is an entity for security, an organisation for security.

Therefore, we cannot say ‘yes’ to this security organisation being deprived of security.

Updated

Some more expulsions have just been announced: Russia’s foreign ministry said it is kicking out 24 Italian diplomats in a retaliatory move, the Russian state-owned news agency Ria reports.

Last month, Italy expelled 30 Russians as part of a coordinated European operation to send Russian diplomats home.

Russia has expelled 34 French diplomats and staff in a retaliatory move, its foreign ministry said.

In response, the French foreign affairs ministry condemned Russia’s decision to kick its staff out of the Moscow embassy.

Last month, France expelled 35 Russians with diplomatic status as part of a wave of expulsions that saw more than 300 Russians kicked out of European capitals.

Later that month, the French foreign ministry declared six Russian agents posing as diplomats as “persona non grata” after an intelligence investigation concluded they were working against France’s national interests.

The UK’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, said he is looking forward to welcoming Finland and Sweden into Nato, just hours after both Nordic countries formally submitted their applications to join the military alliance.

Johnson tweeted that it was a “historic” day and said Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, had “transformed the geopolitical contours of our continent”.

Local residents stand at a bus stop in Mariupol, eastern Ukraine.
Local residents stand at a bus stop in Mariupol, eastern Ukraine. Photograph: Alexei Alexandrov/AP
A woman stands next to a destroyed house in Mariupol, eastern Ukraine.
A woman stands next to a destroyed house in Mariupol, eastern Ukraine. Photograph: Alexei Alexandrov/AP

More than 28,000 Russian troops killed so far, says Ukraine

About 28,300 Russian troops have been killed since troops invaded Ukraine on 24 February, according to Ukraine’s armed forces.

In an update posted on its Facebook page, the general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces said Russia had lost 400 more personnel over the past day.

In addition, it said Russia had also lost 1,251 tanks, 3,043 armoured vehicles, 586 artillery systems, 199 multiple launch rocket systems, 91 air defence systems, 202 warplanes and 13 warships and boats.

Hello, it is Léonie Chao-Fong taking over from Martin Belam to bring you all the latest developments from the war in Ukraine. Feel free to drop me a message if you have anything to flag, you can reach me on Twitter or via email.

Updated

Today so far …

  • Russia’s defence ministry said that 694 Ukrainian fighters who had been under siege at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol surrendered over the last 24 hours.
  • The Russians claim that 959 combatants have surrendered in total at Azovstal since Monday, and that 80 of those who surrendered were wounded, of whom 51 have been taken to hospital. The numbers have not been independently verified.
  • Denis Pushilin, who is head of the self-proclaimed republic of Donetsk, has told local media a court would decide the fate of the Ukrainian fighters who had surrendered at Azovstal.
  • Russia claims they have killed 270 Ukrainian fighters and “54 units of military equipment were disabled” overnight. They also claim to have shot down two planes and 15 drones.
  • The State Emergency Service of Ukraine have issued their latest daily update saying that yesterday they neutralised 685 explosive devices on Ukrainian soil.
  • The latest intelligence update from the UK’s Ministry of Defence highlights Russia’s “significant resourcing problems in Ukraine”, which it says “is likely contributing to a disunited command which continues to hamper Russia’s operations”.
  • Vadim Shishimarin, 21, will appear at Kyiv’s Solomyansky district court from 2pm local time, charged with war crimes and premeditated murder, over the death of a 62-year-old man in north-eastern Ukraine on 28 February.
  • The international criminal court on Tuesday sent a 42-member team to Ukraine to investigate alleged war crimes since the Russian invasion in what it called the largest such deployment in its history.
  • The US will create a new unit to research, document and publicise alleged war crimes by Russia in Ukraine. The Conflict Observatory will “capture, analyse, and make widely available evidence of Russia-perpetrated war crimes and other atrocities in Ukraine”, the US state department said.
  • Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said that there was no movement in peace talks with Ukraine, and claimed that Kyiv was showing a total unwillingness to continue them.
  • Israel says it has delivered 2,000 helmets and 500 protective vests for emergency and civilian use in Ukraine.
  • The UK’s foreign secretary Liz Truss has said the UK is open to the idea of an international criminal tribunal trying Vladimir Putin and other Russian leaders over the war in Ukraine.
  • Austrian foreign minister Alexander Schallenberg told German radio broadcaster Deutschlandfunk his country would stay militarily neutral. “The situation for us looks a little different,” he said when asked about Sweden and Finland applying to join Nato.

That is it from me, Martin Belam, for now. Léonie Chao-Fong will be on the live blog for the next few hours.

Updated

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said that there was no movement in peace talks with Ukraine, and claimed that Kyiv was showing a total unwillingness to continue them.

“Negotiations are not progressing and we note the complete unwillingness of Ukrainian negotiators to continue this process”, Reuters reports Peskov said.

In the past, Peskov has said that reports Russia intended to invade Ukraine were a “hollow and unfounded” invention of the western media, and in February he said that Russian troops would be “pulled back to their permanent bases” after the conclusion of joint military drills with Belarus.

Yesterday, Interfax news agency cited Russian deputy foreign minister Andrey Rudenko as saying that Russia and Ukraine were not holding talks “in any form”, and that Kyiv had “practically withdrawn from the negotiation process”.

Updated

Denis Pushilin, who is head of the self-proclaimed republic of Donetsk in Ukraine, has been quoted by Reuters, citing local media, as saying a court would decide the fate of the Ukrainian fighters who had surrendered at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.

The status of the fighters remains unclear, as there are moves in the Russian State Duma to treat the Azov Battalian as a terrorist organisation, which would then call into question whether Russia would feel obliged to treat those who surrendered at Azovstal as prisoners of war.

Updated

The UK’s foreign secretary Liz Truss has said the UK is open to the idea of an international criminal tribunal trying Vladimir Putin and other Russian leaders over the war in Ukraine. PA Media quotes her telling Times Radio:

We are very clear that Putin and all of those who’ve been behind the appalling war crimes that are being committed in Ukraine need to be held to account, and we’re working very closely with the international criminal court.

We’ve sent support into Ukraine to help collect evidence, from witness statements to video evidence.

I’ve talked to the Ukrainian government about this idea of a tribunal. We are open to the idea of a tribunal, we’re currently considering it, but what we want is the most effective way of prosecuting those people who have committed these appalling war crimes including rape, sexual violence, the indiscriminate targeting of civilians.

If the tribunal will help to do that, then the UK is definitely considering supporting it.

The decision of Sweden and Finland to apply for Nato membership has raised questions for other European countries who maintain a neutral stance. The foreign minister of Austria has said this morning his country would retain its neutral status.

“The situation for us looks a little different,” Austrian foreign minister Alexander Schallenberg told German radio broadcaster Deutschlandfunk, Reuters reports, pointing to “overwhelming” public support for neutrality in Austria.

Schallenberg said that the country, which obtains 80% of its natural gas from Russia, would continue to provide humanitarian support to Ukraine rather than lethal weapons.

“We are helping on a large scale but not with war munition and I think help for Ukraine cannot only be reduced to war munition,” he told the broadcaster.

Reuters has a quick snap that Israel says it has delivered 2,000 helmets and 500 protective vests for emergency and civilian use.

Russia claims 694 Ukrainian fighters surrendered at Azovstal in last 24 hours

Russia’s defence ministry has issued its latest operation briefing.

It says that a total of 959 combatants have surrendered from the Azovstal steel plant since Monday. It said that 694 Ukrainian fighters who had been under siege surrendered over the last 24 hours. Russia says that in total 80 of those who surrendered were wounded, of whom 51 have been taken to hospital.

In addition, the Russians claim that they have killed 270 Ukrainian fighters and “54 units of military equipment were disabled” overnight. They also claim to have shot down two planes and 15 drones.

The claims have not been independently verified.

Updated

Russia’s ministry of defence has issued a statement on Telegram saying it has been requested by the investigative committee of Russia to provide information on “the illegal actions of Ukrainian armed formations related to the use of civilian objects for military purposes”.

Without providing evidence, it claims “the Azov Battalion used the buildings of kindergartens and schools to equip barracks” and that members of the ‘Aidar’ battalion also “equip firing positions in places not intended for this, creating a real danger to the civilian population”.

The Russian ministry of defence also claims that in the Dnepropetrovsk region, Ukrainian forces set up military operations in hospitals and that “the staff and patients of medical facilities are being held as human shields”.

The statement concludes: “As part of the criminal cases under investigation, the investigative committee will record this information and continue to establish all the circumstances of the incident, as well as the Ukrainian security forces involved in this.”

Russia has repeatedly denied making targets of civilians and civilian infrastructure during the latest invasion of Ukraine, which they have termed a “special military operation”.

Asked previously about allegations of war crimes committed by Ukrainian forces, the Ukrainian ambassador to the UK Vadym Prystaiko stated last month that “each and every incident will be investigated”.

The office of Ukraine’s prosecutor general, led by Iryna Venediktova, has said allegations of more than 10,700 crimes by Russian forces have been registered since the war began. Vadim Shysimarin appeared at Kyiv’s district court last week accused of murdering a 62-year-old civilian.

Updated

The UK’s foreign secretary, Liz Truss, has been doing the media round in the UK today, and on Times Radio she has said that Russian assets seized in Britain could be used to help pay for the reconstruction of Ukraine.

“We will, of course, work to make sure that Russia has to contribute to the rebuilding of Ukraine,” she said.

Serhiy Haidai, governor of Luhansk, has posted to Telegram that there will be an evacuation train from Pokrovsk at 4.30pm this afternoon to carry people out of eastern Ukraine to Lviv, as attempts to provide routes across the country for those who wish to flee continue.

The State Emergency Service of Ukraine have issued their latest daily update saying that yesterday they neutralised 685 explosive devices on Ukrainian soil. They say that the total number of munitions dealt with since Russia’s latest invasion began on 24 February has reached 110,593 explosive devices.

Thomas Meaney is a fellow at the Max Planck Society in Göttingen, and he writes for us today saying Finland and Sweden may join Nato – but even they can’t guarantee that will make them safer:

Whether Finland and Sweden will actually be safer in Nato is another question. Their declarations have only drawn a mild rebuke from the Kremlin, which has warned against a military buildup in both countries. Vladimir Putin’s regime has never suggested the possibility of hostilities against either country, with which it has consistently enjoyed cordial relations. Memories of past Russian-Finnish military confrontations suggest that anyone thinking about an incursion into Finland should consider medical treatment.

One sensitive point in the Finland-Nato question is that Russians make up the largest minority in Finland. Their main representative organisation has made it clear that it can resolve any of its political issues through the procedures of Finnish politics. But some Finnish officials fear Putin could still use Russian grievances inside Finland as a pretext for hostilities.

Read more here: Thomas Meaney – Finland and Sweden may join Nato: but even they can’t guarantee that will make them safer

Evacuation of soldiers from the Azovstal steelworks

Ukrainian servicemen sitting in a bus as they are being evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol
Ukrainian servicemen sitting in a bus as they are evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol Photograph: Alessandro Guerra/EPA
For weeks, hundreds of troops have been holed up in a warren of tunnels and bunkers underneath the steelworks, as Russian forces took control of the rest of the city.
For weeks, hundreds of troops have been holed up in a warren of tunnels and bunkers underneath the steelworks, as Russian forces took control of the rest of the city. Photograph: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters
Russian militrary vehicles escort buses carrying Ukrainian servicemen that are being evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol
Russian militrary vehicles escort buses carrying Ukrainian servicemen who are being evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol Photograph: Alessandro Guerra/EPA

Updated

UK Ministry of Defence highlights Russia’s 'significant resourcing problems'

The latest intelligence update from the UK’s Ministry of Defence highlights Russia’s “significant resourcing problems in Ukraine”, which it says “is likely contributing to a disunited command which continues to hamper Russia’s operations”.

Updated

The fate of hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers who have ended weeks of resistance at the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol remains unclear, after the fighters surrendered and were transferred to Russian-controlled territory.

Ukraine’s deputy defence minister said they would be swapped in a prisoner exchange, but some Russian officials said on Tuesday they could be tried and even executed. MPs in Russia’s State Duma said they would propose new laws that could derail prisoner exchanges of fighters who Moscow claims are “terrorists”.

Russian investigators have said they plan to interrogate the soldiers and could charge them with “crimes committed by the Ukrainian regime against the civilian population in south-east Ukraine”.

On Tuesday evening, seven buses carrying Ukrainian soldiers left the Azovstal plant in the port city and arrived at a former prison colony in the Russian-controlled town of Olenivka in Donetsk, Reuters reported.

Full story here.

Here’s more on the war crimes trial due to kick off today.

Vadim Shishimarin, 21, will appear at Kyiv’s Solomyansky district court from 2:00 pm (1100 GMT), charged with war crimes and premeditated murder, over the death of a 62-year-old man in northeastern Ukraine on February 28.

The soldier from Irkutsk in Siberia faces a possible life sentence.

“He understands what he is being accused of,” his lawyer Viktor Ovsiannikov told AFP, without revealing the case for the defence.

Ukrainian authorities say he is cooperating with investigators and admitting the facts of the incident which came just four days after the Russian invasion began.

Prosecutors said Shishimarin was commanding a unit in a tank division when his convoy came under attack.

He and four other soldiers stole a car, and as they were travelling near the village of Shupakhivka in the Sumy region, they encountered a 62-year-old man on a bicycle.

“One of the soldiers ordered the accused to kill the civilian so that he would not denounce them,” the prosecutor’s office said.

Shishimarin then fired a Kalashnikov assault rifle from the window of the vehicle and “the man died instantly, a few dozen metres from his home”, they added in a statement.

Vladislav Raenko and his girlfriend visit the gravesite of Raenko’s father Vladymyr Andreevych Roenko, at a cemetery in Kharvi, Ukriane. Russian soldier Vadim Shishimarin has been charged for Roenko’s death.
Vladislav Raenko and his girlfriend visit the gravesite of Raenko’s father Vladymyr Andreevych Roenko, at a cemetery in Kharvi, Ukriane. Russian soldier Vadim Shishimarin has been charged for Roenko’s death. Photograph: Ken Cedeno/UPI/REX/Shutterstock

In early May, Ukrainian authorities announced his arrest without giving details, while publishing a video in which Shishimarin said he had come to fight in Ukraine to “support his mother financially”.

He explained his actions saying: “I was ordered to shoot, I shot him once. He fell and we continued our journey.”

His lawyer said the case was proving challenging. “This is the first such case in Ukraine with such an indictment. There is no relevant legal practice or verdicts on such cases. We will sort it out,” he said.

Ukraine’s chief prosecutor Iryna Venediktova underlined the importance of the case for her country in a series of tweets.

“We have over 11,000 ongoing cases of war crimes and already 40 suspects,” she said.

“By this first trial, we are sending a clear signal that every perpetrator, every person who ordered or assisted in the commission of crimes in Ukraine shall not avoid responsibility.”

Two Russian servicemen are due to go on trial from Thursday for firing rockets at civilian infrastructure in the northeastern Kharkiv region.

Updated

Hello and welcome to the Guardian’s live coverage of the Ukraine crisis.

The big news today is that the first war crimes trial since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine will begin in Kyiv. It is against a Russian soldier accused of killing an unarmed civilian, a 62-year-old man in northeastern Ukraine, in the days after the invasion began.

The trial, expected to be followed by several others, will test the Ukrainian justice system at a time when international institutions are also conducting their own investigations into abuses committed by Russian forces.

Vadim Shishimarin, 21, will appear at Kyiv’s Solomyansky district court charged with war crimes and premeditated murder, the soldier from Irkutsk in Siberia faces a possible life sentence.

Here is what else you need to know:

  • The international criminal court on Tuesday sent a 42-member team to Ukraine to probe alleged war crimes since the Russian invasion in what it called the largest such deployment in its history.

  • The US will create a new unit to research, document and publicise alleged war crimes by Russia in Ukraine. The Conflict Observatory will “capture, analyse, and make widely available evidence of Russia-perpetrated war crimes and other atrocities in Ukraine,” the US state department said.

  • Peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine have stagnated, officials said on Tuesday, with both sides trading blame and Moscow indicating a return to talks may be difficult. Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said he believed no peace deal can be made if negotiators try to “transfer the dialogue” to focus on what the west had to say instead of the immediate situation in Ukraine. That ruled out chances for progress in talks, he added. “We always say that we are ready for negotiations ... but we were given no other choice,” Lavrov said.

  • The fate of more than 260 Ukrainian soldiers who have ended weeks of resistance at the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol remains unclear, after the fighters surrendered and were transferred to Russian-controlled territory. Ukraine’s deputy defence minister said they would be swapped in a prisoner exchange, but some Russian officials said they could be tried or even executed.

  • Eight people have died and 12 were wounded after Russia launched a missile strike on the village of Desna in the northern Ukrainian region of Chernihiv, according to Ukraine’s state emergency service. The regional governor, Viacheslav Chaus, said Russia launched four missiles at around 5am local time on Tuesday. Two of the missiles hit buildings in the village, he said.

  • A village in Russia’s western province of Kursk bordering Ukraine came under Ukrainian fire, the regional governor said, but there were no injuries.

We’ll be blogging throughout the day, so keep following as we bring you the news as it breaks.