One of two Russians tried as war criminals has said he wanted the conflict in Ukraine to end and that the invasion by Vladimir Putin had been a "failure".
Alexander Bobykin, 26, and Alexander Ivanov, 21, were in a artillery unit that fired at least 38 missiles at civilians and destroyed a school in February.
They each received 12-year sentences at the Kotelevska district court of the Poltava region on Tuesday (May 30).
The soldiers, who listened to the verdict standing in a reinforced glass box at the court in central Ukraine, both pleaded guilty last week.
“The guilt of Bobikin and Ivanov has been proven in full,” Judge Evhen Bolybok said, standing in front of a Ukrainian flag.
The pair’s unit had fired Grad missiles into Ukraine’s Kharkiv region from Belgorod in Russia.
The two men, described respectively as an artillery driver and a gunner, were captured after crossing the border.
After the verdict, the two were asked if they felt the sentence was fair and both said yes.
Bobykin reportedly said: “I want to change to the Ukraine military. Putin should stop the war now. It is a mistake. The war is a failure. I’m satisfied with my conditions in prison. My family know I am here. I have changed my mind about what I did. My verdict is true.”
Asked if Putin had been a failure he replied: “Yes.”
The convictions were welcomed by authorities in Kharkiv who are currently investigating more than 1,000 war crimes.
On May 23, a Ukrainian court sentenced a Russian soldier to life in prison for killing an unarmed civilian.
Russia has denied targeting civilians or involvement in war crimes while it carries out what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine.
A legal source reportedly said yesterday after the judgement: “This sends out a tough message that we are thoroughly investigating the barbaric acts the Russians are responsible for. Their soldiers have committed shellings, murders and rapes and thought they would get away with it."
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