Ukraine to try First war crimes case against Russian soldier

  • White House says the United States “would support a NATO application by Finland and/or Sweden should they apply”.
  • The Institute for the Study of War estimates that Russian forces likely control all of Rubizhne and are expected to launch a ground offensive on Severodonetsk in the coming days.
  • Ukraine claims its forces damaged a Russian navy logistics ship in the Black Sea, near Snake Island.
  • More than six million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began, UN refugee agency data shows.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy maintains he is ready for talks with Putin but stresses Ukraine will never recognise Crimea as part of Russia.
  • UN Human Rights Council passes a resolution to investigate alleged rights abuses committed by Russian troops in parts of Ukraine formerly under their control.
(Al Jazeera)

Here are all the latest updates:

Ukrainian court to hear first war crimes case against Russian soldier

A Ukrainian court is expected to begin hearing the first war crimes case arising from Russia’s February 24 invasion after charging a captured Russian soldier with the murder of a 62-year-old civilian.

The Kyiv government has accused Russia of atrocities and brutality against civilians during the invasion and said it has identified more than 10,000 possible war crimes. Russia has denied targeting civilians or involvement in war crimes and accused Kyiv of staging them.

The Kyiv district court’s website identified the soldier on trial as Vadim Shishimarin and said he was accused of “violations of the laws and norms of war”.

Russian mortars killed 37 civilians north of Kyiv in March: report

Russian forces killed at least 37 Ukrainian civilians who tried to flee the  occupants in the villages north of Kyiv throughout March, the Wall Street Journal reports.

They were mostly killed on a 6.5km-long (four miles) stretch of road between the villages of Motyzhin and Yasnohorodka, which were occupied in March, the video report released on Thursday said.

After analysing dashboard camera footage, locations of Russian forces, and interviewing survivors and police, the WSJ concluded that most of the fleeing civilians were targeted and killed by mortar fire.

China says confidence in UN rights body after Russia vote

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian has said that a decision by the UN Human Rights Council to set up an investigation into alleged human rights abuses by Russian troops shook members’ trust in the body.

The UN Human Rights Council resolution to set up the investigation passed on Thursday by a strong majority, with 33 members voting in favour and two – China and Eritrea – against.

Zhao said during a press briefing that China’s objection was due to the UN failing to look at some countries that wage war, while choosing to target others.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian speaks during a media briefing.
Zhao says UN fails to look at some countries that wage war, while choosing to target others [File: AP]

Russian gas nominations for Slovakia rise: operator data

Daily nominations for Russian gas deliveries to Slovakia via Ukraine have risen, according to data from Slovakian operator TSO Eustream.

Nominations via the Velke Kapusany border point rose to around 946,741 megawatt hours (MWh) per day, versus 625,135 MWh per day on Thursday, the data showed.

Russian gas producer Gazprom said it continues shipping gas to Europe via Ukraine at the Sudzha entry point, with volumes on Friday seen at 61.97 million cubic metres (mcm), compared with 50.6 mcm on Thursday.

Russia’s Gazprom: Gas transit via Ukraine at 61.97 mcm

Russian gas producer Gazprom has said it continues shipping gas to Europe via Ukraine at the Sudzha entry point, with volumes seen at 61.97 million mcm, compared with 50.6 mcm on Thursday.

The application for gas supply via the Sokhranovka entry point was rejected by Ukraine, Gazprom said.

Russian gas flows to Europe via Ukraine fell by a quarter on Wednesday after Kyiv halted use of the Sokhranovka route.

Pipework at a gas pre-treatment unit at the Gazprom PJSC Chayandinskoye oil, gas and condensate field, a resource base for the Power of Siberia gas pipeline, in the Lensk district of the Sakha Republic, Russia
Pipework at a gas pre-treatment unit at a Gazprom  oil, gas and condensate field in the Lensk district of the Sakha Republic, Russia [File: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg]

Russian forces attacking Azovstal to trap Ukrainian fighters: Army

Ukraine’s military says Russian forces have continued to launch artillery and air raids on the embattled port of Mariupol, focusing on blocking Ukrainian fighters at their last holdout at the Azovstal steelworks.

In its daily operational note on Friday, the general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces also said Russian forces have staged assaults on multiple villages in eastern Ukraine as they try to expand control there, but not all were successful.

Russian forces targeted villages near Donetsk, Lyman, Bakhmut and Kurakhiv as well, the Ukrainian military said.

The update added that Russian forces are transferring additional artillery units to border areas near Ukraine’s northern Chernihiv region, where deadly Russian attacks hit a school and dormitory on Thursday.

Russian soldier to stand trial for war crime on Friday

A Russian soldier is scheduled to go on trial on Friday for killing an unarmed Ukrainian civilian.

Sergeant Vadim Shyshimarin stands accused of shooting the 62-year-old man in the head through an open car window in the northeastern village of Chupakhivka. He faces up to life in prison under the penalties spelled out in the section of the Ukrainian criminal code that addresses the laws and customs of war.

Shyshimarin’s lawyer, Victor Ovsyanikov, acknowledged that the case against him is strong, but said the final decision over what evidence to allow will be made by the court in Kyiv. Ovsyanikov said that he and his client had not yet decided how he will plead.

The trial marks the first time since the start of the invasion that a member of the Russian military will be prosecuted for a war crime.

One quarter of Russians use VPN to access blocked sites: Study

One quarter of Russians use a VPN to access Facebook and Instagram, which have been blocked in Russia, a study has found, Moscow state news agency TASS reports.

“Nearly a third of respondents (30%) have reduced their visits to these [Instagram and Facebook] services due to the need to use a VPN. At the same time, 26% have not stopped using Facebook, Instagram and other blocked services because their use is not prohibited by law,” the study said.

Russia has blocked Instagram because it is owned by Meta, which Moscow has officially designated as an extremist organisation.

Shelling killed two people in Luhansk: Governor

Shelling of residential areas across Luhansk has killed two people and destroyed nearly 60 homes, the region’s governor has said.

“Seven high-rise buildings were damaged in Severodonetsk, one in Lysychansk,” Serhey Haidai wrote on Telegram, adding that Popasna and Gorsky were the worst affected. More than 50 houses have been destroyed in villages across these areas, he said.

Haidai said a man from Lysychansk and a boy from Zolote died.

“A destroyed bridge, which was the first to be rebuilt in the Luhansk region after the occupiers were expelled in 2014, is no longer a transport link between Severodonetsk and Rubizhne,” he added.

A child's bed inside an apartment building damaged by Russian shelling in Bakhmut, Donetsk region
A child’s bed inside an apartment building damaged by Russian shelling in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Thursday, May 12, 2022 [Andriy Andriyenko/AP]

Ukrainian forces prevented attempted Russian river crossing in Donbas: UK

Russian troops are putting “significant effort” into the area around Izyum and Severodonetsk to finally break through to Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, the United Kingdom’s defence ministry has said.

“The primary objective on this axis is to envelop Ukrainian forces in the Joint Forces Operation area, isolating them from support or reinforcement by units in the west of the country,” the ministry said in its latest intelligence briefing.

It also said Ukrainian forces successfully prevented a river crossing in the Donbas by the Russians, who incurred some losses during the attempt.

“Conducting river crossings in a contested environment is a highly risky manoeuvre and speaks to the pressure the Russian commanders are under to make progress in their operations in eastern Ukraine,” the ministry added.

Risk of a ‘lost generation’: UK Diplomat

The UK’s ambassador to the UN has said that Ukraine faces a real risk of a “lost generation”.

Barbara Woodward told the UN Security Council there is already evidence Russia is committing four of the Council’s six grave violations against children in times of war.

She said children in Ukraine have been killed and maimed, schools and nurseries have been targeted across the country, there are credible allegations of sexual violence against children by Russian forces, and there are continuing reports of forced deportations.

“There is now a very real risk of a lost generation, and the continuation of a cycle of violence, caused by Russia’s invasion and the devastation it has created,” Woodward said.

Ukraine war a ‘child rights crisis’: UNICEF

The war in Ukraine is a “child rights crisis” where education is under attack, nearly 100 youngsters have been killed in just the last month, and millions more have been forced to flee their homes, the UN children’s agency has said.

Omar Abdi, deputy executive director of UNICEF, told the UN Security Council on Thursday that children are paying “an unconscionably high price” in the war, with 239 confirmed killed and 355 wounded since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24. He said the actual numbers are much higher.

Abdi said the school year came to a standstill after Russia invaded its smaller neighbour, and as of last week at least 15 of 89 UNICEF-supported schools in the country’s east had been damaged or destroyed in the fighting.

“Hundreds of schools across the country are reported to have been hit by heavy artillery, airstrikes and other explosive weapons in populated areas, while other schools are being used as information centres, shelters, supply hubs, or for military purposes – with long-term impact on children’s return to education,” Abdi said.

A boy from Siversk looks though the window of a bus during evacuation near Lyman, Ukraine, Wednesday, May 11, 2022
A boy from Siversk looks through the window of a bus during evacuation near Lyman, Ukraine, Wednesday, May 11, 2022 [Evgeniy Maloletka/AP]

G7 meeting to focus on food security, Moldova

Foreign ministers from the G7 will discuss how to alleviate food security concerns when they meet in Germany on Friday, as fears mount that the war between Russia and Ukraine could further destabilise Moldova.

The annual meeting running until Saturday brings together top diplomats from the UK, Canada, Germany, Italy, France, Japan, the US and the European Union, to the Baltic Sea resort of Weissenhaus.

Talks are set to be dominated by Ukraine and how to manage the consequences of a conflict that could drag on for months, if not longer.

The Ukrainian and Moldovan foreign ministers are also attending on Friday with the West’s most industrialised nations set to reaffirm their support for the two countries.

EU’s Michel says global security under nuclear threat

The president of the European Council, who is visiting Japan’s Hiroshima, the first city to suffer an atomic bombing, has said that global security was under threat from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and North Korea’s recent missile test.

Charles Michel said the nuclear memorial city of Hiroshima is “a stark reminder of the urgency” to strengthen international rules for nuclear disarmament and arms control.

“As we speak, global security is under threat. Russia, a nuclear armed state … is attacking the sovereign nation of Ukraine, while making shameful and unacceptable references to the use of nuclear weapons,” Michel said in his speech.

Russian ship likely damaged but has not sunk: Official

An adviser to Ukraine’s president has said that Moscow’s navy logistics ship, Vsevolod Bobrov, was carrying an air defence system from Russia’s northern fleet to Zmeiny (Snake) Island when Ukraine allegedly struck it.

Oleksiy Arestovych told former Russian lawyer and politician Mark Feygin on his YouTube show that the ship was seriously damaged but was not believed to have sunk.

There has been no confirmation from Russia and no reports of casualties.

Satellite images show probable attacks on Russian Black Sea vessel

Satellite images have emerged that reportedly show the aftermath of what were probable missile attacks on a Russian Serna-class landing craft near Snake island, close to Ukraine’s sea border with Romania.

Ukraine said earlier that the Russian navy logistics ship, Vsevolod Bobrov, had been struck near Snake Island, the scene of renewed fighting in recent days, but did not give details.

Images, taken by US-based private company Maxar Technologies, also showed recent damage to buildings on the island.

A satellite image shows a Serna-class landing craft and possible missile contrail near Snake Island.
A satellite image shows a Serna-class landing craft and possible missile contrail near Snake Island, Ukraine May 12, 2022 [Satellite image 2022 Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERS]

Six injured in central city of Cherkasy: Police

A cruise missile damaged a two-story building in the centre of the town of Cherkasy, in central Ukraine, the country’s police have reported.

The report said that according to the head of the community, Andriy Holovash, six people in the building were injured and one had to be taken to western Ukraine for treatment.

A crowd of residents had also gathered to receive their pension near where the missile hit, but none of them were injured, the report said.

Russians find flying ever more turbulent

Airspace closed, Western-made aircraft at risk of repossession, no Visa or Mastercard; flying outside the country has become increasingly difficult for Russians.

Some, like academic Mishaa who left because of fears of martial law, have flown to former Soviet states paying many times more than they would have done before the invasion of Ukraine. Those looking to go further afield are taking circuitous routes usually via Turkey, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

Read more on that story here.

INTERACTIVE Where are Russians flying to?
(Al Jazeera)


Families of Azovstal fighters plead for help

The families of the Ukrainian fighters desperately defending Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant are demanding more be done to save them.

The Reuters news agency says a group of relatives and supporters marched through central Kyiv on Thursday.

“The conditions they are in are horrible,” Mariupol resident Alina Nesterenko, who was at the demonstration told Reuters. “I have no words to describe them. That’s why we are here. We are begging, we are pleading in every possible way, we are asking for our loved ones to be saved.”

Kyiv says new talks are underway with Moscow to rescue the most badly wounded servicemen, and that the International Committee of the Red Cross and UN were also involved.

“We want a document signed on how an evacuation would take place at Azovstal,” Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk told 1+1 television, adding that Turkey – which has offered to host talks between the presidents of Russia and Ukraine – was also acting as an intermediary.

Women, some with the Ukraine flag tied around their shoulders, march to call for the rescue of the soldiers remaining at the Azovstal plant in Mariupol
Relatives of the Ukrainian forces still in the Azovstal plant marched in Kyiv on Thursday to demand more be done to help them [Carlos Barria/Reuters]

Russian forces likely control all of Rubizhne: Think tank

Russian forces likely control all of Rubizhne as of Thursday and have likely seized the town of Voevodivka, north of Severodonetsk, the Institute for the Study of War has said.

“They will likely launch a ground offensive on or around Severodonetsk in the coming days,” the institute said in its latest campaign assessment.

“The relative success of Russian operations in this area combined with their failure to advance from Izium and the notable decline in the energy of that attempted advance suggest that they may be giving up on the Izium axis,” it added.

Finland and Sweden will be ‘targets’ as NATO members: Russian diplomat

Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership, and the deployment of allied units on their territory, will make them possible targets for Russia, Moscow’s representative to the UN has said.

“They know that the moment they become members of NATO it will imply certain mirror moves on the Russian side,” Dmitry Polyansky said in a video interview with online publication UnHerd.

“If there are NATO detachments in those territories, these territories would become a target – or a possible target – for a strike.”

“They were living normally as good neighbours with us for tens of years; if they suddenly choose to become part of a very unfriendly bloc, it’s up to them,” Polyansky said. 

Alternatives to European integration ‘unacceptable’ for Ukraine: Official

Proposals on alternatives to European integration are “unacceptable” for Ukraine, the head of Zelenskyy’s office has said.

Andriy Yermak told an online meeting with European officials that Ukraine’s cooperation with the EU during the period of Russia’s invasion proves the country is already part of the European team. He said Ukraine was determined to continue the integration process.

“Ukraine must become part of a united Europe as soon as possible. This is a matter of mutual security,” he added.

US Republican senator delays passage of $40bn Ukraine aid bill

Republican US Senator Rand Paul has defied leaders of both major parties and single-handedly delayed the approval of an additional $40bn in American aid to Ukraine.

With the Senate poised to debate and vote on the package of military and economic aid, Paul denied leaders the unanimous agreement they needed to proceed.

The legislation has been approved overwhelmingly by the House of Representatives, but without all 100 senators on board, the bill must follow a lengthy legislative process in the upper chamber.

Paul is demanding that the legislation be altered to require an inspector general to oversee spending on Ukraine. “This is the second spending bill for Ukraine in two months. And this bill is three times larger than the first,” Paul said before formally blocking the aid package. “Congress just wants to keep on spending, and spending.”

Rand Paul
Senator Rand Paul has single-handedly denied swift passage to $40bn Ukraine aid bill [File: Shawn Thew/Pool via AP]

Zelenskyy accuses Russia of ‘barbarity’

Zelenskyy has said Russian forces hit schools in attacks in the Chernihiv region.

“Of course, the Russian state is in such a state that any education only gets in its way. But what can be achieved by destroying Ukrainian schools? All Russian commanders who give such orders are simply sick, and incurable,” he said.

Zelenskyy added that since the invasion began, the Russian military had damaged 570 medical facilities, fully destroying 101 hospitals.

“What is that? It’s stupidity. It’s barbarity. It’s the self-destruction of Russia as a state that anyone in the world could see as a cultured nation,” he said.

Zelenskyy says he is ready for talks with Putin

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said he is ready to talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin and that “we must find an agreement”, but with no ultimatum as a condition.

Zelenskyy told Italian RAI state TV in an interview scheduled for broadcast on Thursday night that Ukraine will never recognise Crimea as part of Russia.

“Crimea has always had its autonomy, it has its parliament, but on the inside of Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said in excerpts of the interview that RAI released.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Ukraine will never recognise Crimea as part of Russia [File: Efrem Lukatsky/AP Photo]

Rocket attacks intensify on central Poltava region: Governor

Rocket attacks on Ukraine’s central Poltava region have been “perhaps the most intense for the duration of the war”, the regional governor has said.

“[Thursday’s] shelling of the Poltava region is perhaps the largest during the course of this full-scale war,” Dmitry Lunin wrote in a Telegram post. “12 Russian missiles hit the infrastructure in [the city of] Kremenchuk; most of them hit an oil refinery that was not operational anyway.”

Lunin added: “Rescuers are putting out a fire at the refinery. Luckily, no one was hurt.”

Ukraine warns against involvement in sale of ‘stolen’ grain

Ukraine’s foreign minister has said that everyone involved in the transportation and sale of grain seized by Russia in occupied areas of the country will face legal consequences.

“I want to remind the participants in this deal: what is stolen has never brought happiness to anyone. Everyone involved in the sale, transportation or purchase of stolen grain is an accomplice to the crime,” ministry’s press service quoted Dmytro Kuleba as saying.

Ukrainian officials said earlier this week that a Russian ship carrying seized Ukrainian grain had reached the Mediterranean Sea with Syria as it likely destination.

Two civilians killed in attack near Kharkiv, says local official

At least two civilians have died as a result of a shelling attack on the outskirts of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, local authorities have said.

“As a result of the shelling, two people were killed, four more were injured, two of whom are doctors. All these people are civilians,” Vyacheslav Zadorenko, the mayor of the suburban town of Derhachi, wrote in a Telegram post.

He added that the attack also damaged a building housing a humanitarian aid unit, municipal offices and hospital facilities.

Student dies in shelling on Russian village: Report

A student at a construction college in the Russian village of Solokhi near the border with Ukraine has died as a result of a shelling attack, a teacher at the college has told Russia’s Interfax news agency.

“Russian Nifodyov died as a result of the shelling of the peaceful village of Solokhi by the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” Nikolai Ignatenko was cited as saying.

Earlier, the governor of Russia’s Belgorod region, where Solokhi is located, said that at least one civilian had been killed in the shelling, while six more were injured. Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov likewise blamed the attack on Kyiv’s forces, but it was not immediately clear whether the slain civilian he referred to was Nifodyov.

White House backs any move by Finland and Sweden to join NATO

The White House has said it would support any move by Finland and Sweden to join NATO in reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We would support a NATO application by Finland and/or Sweden should they apply. We would respect any decision they make,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.

Ukraine says its forces damaged Russian navy ship in Black Sea

Ukrainian forces have damaged a modern Russian navy logistics ship in the Black Sea, setting it on fire, a spokesman for the Odesa regional military administration in southern Ukraine has said.

Spokesman Serhiy Bratchuk said in an online post that the Vsevolod Bobrov had been struck near Snake Island, the scene of renewed fighting in recent days, but did not give details.

The tiny island is located near Ukraine’s sea border with Romania.

More than six million refugees have fled Ukraine, UN says

More than six million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began on February 24, United Nations refugee agency data shows.

A total of 6,029,705 people had fled the country as of May 11, the agency said.

Many have gone to neighbouring countries, according to the agency’s dedicated website, with Poland hosting the largest number of people.

Ukrainian refugee
An elderly Ukrainian woman at a facility housing Ukrainian refugees in Chisinau, Moldova, on May 10 [File: Aurel Obreja/AP Photo]

Canada to deploy military general, officers to new NATO unit in Latvia

Canada will deploy a general and six staff officers to a new NATO unit in Latvia that will help plan, coordinate and integrate regional military activities, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said.

The general and staff officers will “be part of a first of its kind unit”, Trudeau told reporters at a joint news conference with Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins. “It’ll serve as a continued important part of our enhancements to NATO’s defence and deterrence capabilities.”

Canada has almost 700 members of its armed forces deployed in Latvia, a small Baltic state that shares a border with Russia. Karins welcomed Canada’s participation in a new “multi-divisional headquarters” there.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Read all the updates from Thursday, May 12 here.

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