Russia took action on Wednesday by expelling 34 French diplomats and accusing Ukraine of unwillingness to negotiate. Meanwhile, the first war crimes trial took place in Ukraine.
While a handful of Ukrainian soldiers are still entrenched at the Azovstal plant, Russia maintains that nearly 1,000 of them have surrendered in the past three days. At the same time, a war crime trial against a Russian soldier began in Kyiv, for the first time.
• First war crimes trial in Ukraine
the first. The trial of 21-year-old Russian soldier Vadim Chichimarin, accused of violating the laws of war and assassination for the murder of a Ukrainian civilian, opened Wednesday. According to the services of the Public Prosecutor, “One of the soldiers told the accused of killing the civilian so that he would not condemn them.” They added that Vadim Chichimarin then fired a Kalashnikov rifle from the car window, and “the man died on the spot, dozens of meters from his house.”
And soon the young soldier confessed the facts and admitted guilt. Then the first session was suspended and will not resume until Thursday. His lawyer, Viktor Ovsianikov, said he was confident of BFMTV that his client would not be “an example” and that justice would not be rushed.
“I think it is fast justice, but there is no violation. It is in the interests of the litigants and my clients that justice is served quickly,” he said.
• Finland and Sweden made an official request
It is now official. This Wednesday, Finland and Sweden submitted their applications for NATO membership. But the process is likely to be lengthy because Turkey has blocked the start of talks. The members will now have to negotiate with Ankara to lift this blockage, since it is necessary to obtain the consent of all countries without exception to bring Finland and Sweden.
“This is a historic moment at a critical time for our security,” said NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who received membership applications from the two countries’ ambassadors. “We hope to conclude the process quickly,” he added.
The Kremlin accuses Ukraine of “not fully prepared” for negotiations
Almost three months into the war and talks are not progressing. Russia on Wednesday accused Ukraine of not doing enough to end the conflict between the two countries.
“Negotiations are not moving forward and we see a complete lack of will of the Ukrainian negotiators to continue this process,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
The day before, Michalo Podolak, an advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, confirmed that Kyiv had halted the negotiation process because of Russia.
• 959 Ukrainian soldiers have surrendered from Azovstal since Monday
The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed on Wednesday that 959 Ukrainian soldiers who were holed up at the Azovstal steel site in Mariupol had surrendered since Monday. However, no indication was given as to what fate would be reserved for these prisoners.
According to the pro-Russian separatist leader from the Donetsk region, Denis Pushlin, there are still a thousand Ukrainians at the site. According to him, they were “more than 2,000” before the surrenders announced by Moscow. “The commanders and high-ranking fighters of the Azov Regiment are not leaving at the moment,” the separatist leader said.
Russia announces the expulsion of 34 French diplomats
Retaliation against European sanctions. Russia announced, on Wednesday, the expulsion of 34 French diplomats. The announcement came after the French ambassador to Moscow, Pierre Levy, was summoned.
Quai d’Orsay, through its spokesperson Anne Claire Legendre, responded on BFMTV, “strongly” condemning the Russian decision which is “unfounded”.
Other European countries are concerned, as the ambassadors of Spain, Italy and Sweden were recalled to Moscow on Wednesday, according to Russian media.