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Russian soldier pleads guilty to killing civilian in Ukraine war crimes trial

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Ukraine is holding its first war crimes trial since the war began on February 24

A 21-year-old Russian soldier is on trial pleading guilty to killing an unarmed civilian.

Vadim Shishimarin is now facing life in jail for killing the 62-year-old man only days after Russia invaded Ukraine.

The prisoner was escorted into the courtroom by heavily armed guards with the victim’s widow also present.

In court Shishimarin accepted his guilt before the judge.

The criminal was commanding a unit in a tank division when his group was attacked.

The 5 soldiers escaped by stealing a car and travelling to the nearby town of Chupakivka which is where they came across the civilian Oleksandr Shelipov.

Prosecutors allege that Shishimarin received orders to kill Shelipov shooting him in the head with a Kalashnikov assault rifle but the Kremlin has denied its involvement.

The trial was adjourned not long after the prisoner admitted his guilt with the hearing to resume on Thursday in a larger courtroom.

The BBC spoke with Shelipov’s widow she says she “feels very sorry” for the Russian soldier but assured that she could not forgive him for a crime like that.

Throughout the three months of war Ukraine has reported over 10,000 potential war crimes committed by Russia.

Ukraine’s chief prosecutor took to Twitter to say the trial is a “clear signal that every perpetrator, every person who ordered or assisted in the commission of crimes in Ukraine shall not avoid responsibility”.

Russia continues to reject that its troops ever targeted civilians.

The International Criminal Court is conducting their own investigation with 42 experts expected to arrive in the country in the coming weeks.

Natasha is an Associate Producer at ticker NEWS with a Bachelor of arts from Monash University. She has previously worked at Sky News Australia and Monash University as an Online Content Producer.

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U.S. fighters shoot down Chinese spy balloon – now what?

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U.S. military fighter aircraft shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon as it floated off the coast of South Carolina on Saturday, drawing to a close a dramatic saga that shone a spotlight on worsening Sino-U.S. relations.

“We successfully took it down, and I want to compliment our aviators who did it,” President Joe Biden said.

Biden said he had issued an order on Wednesday to take down the balloon, but the Pentagon had recommended waiting until it could be done over open water to safeguard civilians from debris crashing down to Earth from thousands of feet (meters) above commercial air traffic.

China has mounted “the largest intelligence operation in the history of the human race” against the US and Australia, a former top US intelligence official has warned, as the US military shot down a Chinese spy balloon as it neared the Atlantic coast above the Carolinas.

Multiple fighter and refueling aircraft were involved in the mission, but only one — an F-22 fighter jet from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia — took the shot at 2:39 p.m. (1939 GMT), using a single AIM-9X supersonic, heat-seeking, air-to-air missile, a senior U.S. military official said.

The balloon was shot down about six nautical miles off the U.S. coast, over relatively shallow water, potentially aiding efforts to recover key elements of the Chinese surveillance equipment among the debris in the coming days, officials said.

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Balloon diplomacy blows China off course

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China claims an “airship” that is flying over the United States is for civilian meteorological and other scientific purposes and voiced regret that it strayed into U.S. airspace.

U.S. officials said on Thursday that a Chinese spy balloon has been flying over the United States for a couple of days, in what would be a brazen act just days ahead of a planned trip to Beijing by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

In a statement late on Friday, China’s foreign ministry also said that it would continue to maintain communications with the United States to properly handle the unexpected situation.

“The airship is from China and is civilian in nature, used for meteorological and other scientific research. Due to the influence of westerly winds and its limited control capability, the airship deviated from its intended course,” it said.

“China regrets that the airship strayed into the United States by mistake due to force majeure. China will continue to maintain communication with the U.S. side to properly handle this accident,” it said.

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U.S. announces longer-range rocket for Ukraine

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A new rocket that would double Ukraine’s strike range in its war with Russia was included in a $2.175 billion U.S. military aid package.

The new weapon, the Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB), will allow Ukraine’s military to hit targets at twice the distance reachable by the rockets it now fires from the U.S.-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS).

The 151 km (94 mile) GLSDB will put all of Russia’s supply lines in eastern Ukraine within reach, as well as part of Russian-occupied Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014.

“As part of the USAI package, we will be providing Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb to Ukraine,” Brigadier General Patrick Ryder told a news briefing at the Pentagon. USAI stands for Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI).

Friday’s aid pledge opens the door to many more deliveries of the Ground Launched Small Diameter Bombs (GLSDB).

When the new rockets arrive, it will mark the first time Ukraine has seen its rocket range grow exponentially since U.S. furnished HIMARS in late-June 2022.

HIMARS have a 77 km (48 mile) range and were instrumental in Ukraine’s counter offensive against Russian forces, which invaded on Feb. 24, 2022.

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