Kiev / Mariupol – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday told world business leaders that the world should increase sanctions against Russia to prevent other countries from using “brutal force” to achieve their goals.
Zelensky spoke via video link to the World Economic Forum in Davos as Ukrainian military forces demanded an end to a Russian attack on the eastern city of Sivirodonetsk after the surrender of the southern port city of Mariupol. Last week.
Zelensky also described Ukraine’s worst military casualties since a single attack on Monday, saying 87 people had been killed last week when Russian forces attacked a barracks housing troops at a training base in the north.
Earlier, Kyiv said eight people had been killed in an attack on a barracks in the town of Desna on May 17.
In the first of many war crimes trials since the February 24 attacks in Russia, a Kiev court has sentenced a young Russian tank commander to life in prison for killing an unarmed civilian.
Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Irina Venediktova told the Washington Post that about 13,000 cases of alleged Russian war crimes were being investigated.
Russia denies targeting civilians or engaging in war crimes, calling it a “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Starbucks to go
As the conflict enters its fourth month, Zelensky urges countries to put more pressure on Moscow and accuses it of failing to end sanctions.
“Sanctions should be maximized so that Russia – and other potential aggressors who want to wage a brutal war against its neighbor – knows clearly the immediate consequences of their actions,” he told the Davos meeting.
He demanded an oil embargo, a blockade of all Russian banks and a halt to all trade. Foreign businesses should be completely withdrawn from Russia and the Russian IT industry should be isolated from the West, he said.
The United States, the European Union and other agencies have already imposed massive sanctions on Russia, and on Monday Starbucks Corp became the latest Western brand to announce that it was leaving the country. The Seattle-based coffee chain has 130 stores in Russia. Its decision follows a similar move by McDonald’s. The fast food chain’s trademark “Golden Arches” was lowered near Moscow on Monday.
Russia has focused its attacks on the eastern Donbass region since the withdrawal of its troops from the capital Kyiv and surrounding areas in the north in late March.
After capturing Mariupol last week after a three-month siege, Russian forces now control an unoccupied part of a large part of the east and south, freeing more troops to join the main Donbass battle.
Moscow is trying to encircle Ukrainian forces and completely occupy the Luhansk and Donetsk provinces that make up Donbass and where Moscow supports separatist forces.
Kyiv said on Monday that Russian forces had tried to storm Sieverodonets but failed and retreated. The city is located east of the Ukrainian-controlled pocket of Donbass and one of the last territories in Luhansk is still outside Russian occupation.
Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai said Russia was “removing Sieverodonetsk from the face of the earth” and was trying to move forward in three directions: to cross Sieverodonetsk, cut a highway to its south and cross the river further west.
War crimes trial
Judge Serhiy Agafonov, a judge in Kiev, said 21-year-old tank commander Vadim Shishimarin, following orders from a high-ranking soldier, fired several shots at the victim’s head from an automatic weapon.
Shishimarin pleaded guilty to killing Alexander Shelipov, 62, in the village of Chupakhivka in northeastern Ukraine on February 28, four days after Russian troops stormed the border.
Standing in a shattered glass box in the courtroom, Shishimarin showed no emotion while reading the verdict.
The trial, which began last week, has huge symbolic significance for Ukraine, which has accused Russia of atrocities and brutality against civilians.
The Kremlin has not commented on the ruling. It has said in the past that it has no information about the trial.
Denis Pushpin, head of the Moscow-backed separatists in Donetsk, said Ukrainian prisoners of war held at the Azovstal Steelworks in Mariupol could also face tribunal.
“Now, they are being held in the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic. An international tribunal is planned to be formed later. “
Ukraine is trying to secure a prisoner exchange for fighters who surrendered in Mariupol last week. A Russian deputy foreign minister was quoted as saying that Moscow could negotiate a swap.
In other developments, a Russian diplomat at the country’s permanent mission to the UN in Geneva said he was stepping down because of disagreements with Moscow’s aggression in Ukraine, a rare political resignation for the war.
Boris Bondez, who identified himself as a consultant on LinkedIn who worked on arms control, told Reuters: “The scale of the disaster forced me to do it.”
“I can no longer be a partner in this bloody, irrational and completely unnecessary disgrace.”
(Reporting by Kiev’s Pavel Politique and Natalia Genetas, and by Mariupol Reuters reporters Peter Graf and Angus Maxwan; Editing by Nick McPhee and Frank Jack Daniel)