Vadim Shishimarin, a 21-year-old tank commander, had pleaded guilty to killing 62-year-old Oleksandr Shelipov in the northeastern Ukrainian village of Chupakhivka on Feb. 28, four days after the invasion. read more
Upon imposing the life sentence, Judge Agafonov told the court ""Given that the crime committed is a crime against peace, security, humanity and the international legal order ... the court does not see the possibility of imposing a (shorter) sentence."
Shishmarin's lawyer, Viktor Ovsyannikov, said he was not surprised by the sentence because there had been "certain pressure from society" and said he would launch a legal appeal.
Mark Ellis, executive director of the International Bar Association, said the verdict was "not surprising" and could be the first part of "a large puzzle also involving Ukrainian soldiers being held in Russia."
"If this is the baseline trial, it sets the bar very high," he said. "For most other war crimes cases in Ukraine I suspect we'll see similar sentences because this is the baseline trial."
Kyiv 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 while it carries out what it calls a "special military operation" in Ukraine.
The Kremlin did not immediately comment on the verdict. It has previously said that it has no information about the trial.