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Ukraine Court Sentences 2 Russian Soldiers for Shelling Civilians

Russian soldiers Alexander Ivanov, right, and Alexander Bobikin sit in a glass box at their trial in Kotelva, northeastern Ukraine, May 26, 2022.

A Ukrainian court sentenced two Russian soldiers to 11½-year prison terms on Tuesday after they had pleaded guilty last week to indiscriminately shelling civilian targets in the Kharkiv region, from across the border in Russia.

Alexander Bobikin and Alexander Ivanov heard the verdict as they stood in a reinforced glass box at the Kotelva district court in northeastern Ukraine.

"The guilt of Bobikin and Ivanov has been proven in full," Judge Evhen Bolybok said, standing in front of a Ukrainian flag.

Prosecutors had asked for 12-year terms for the Russian soldiers in the second war crimes case Ukrainian officials have brought. Defense lawyers said the sentences should be eight years because the pair had pleaded guilty, expressed remorse and contended that they were following orders when they fired Grad missiles at targets from Russia's Belgorod area.

After they were sentenced, the two were asked whether they felt their sentences were fair and both said yes. Guards armed with Kalashnikov rifles then handcuffed the two and led them out of the courtroom.

After the initial shelling from inside Russia, Bobikin and Ivanov, described as an artillery driver and a gunner, were captured after crossing the border and continuing the shelling.

Last week, a Russian soldier was handed a life sentence for killing an unarmed civilian.

Ukraine has accused Russia of committing thousands of war crimes during the war over the past three months, although Moscow denies it is targeting civilians.

Some material in this report came from Reuters and Agence France-Presse.