Russian soldier on trial in Ukraine asks 'forgiveness': AFP

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The first Russian soldier on trial for war crimes in Ukraine asked for "forgiveness" in a Kyiv court Thursday as he gave a detailed account on how he killed a civilian early in Moscow's invasion.

"I know that you will not be able to forgive me, but nevertheless I ask you for forgiveness," 21-year-old Russian sergeant Vadim Shishimarin said in court, addressing the wife of a 62-year-old civilian whom he admitted killing in the first days of the invasion.

Shishimarin faces possible life imprisonment in Ukraine on charges of war crimes and premeditated murder.

He told the court that he shot the man as he and several other Russian soldiers were retreating and trying to rejoin their units in Russia.

The soldiers found a civilian car, a Volkswagen, which they hijacked.

"We wanted to get to where our army was and go back to Russia," Shishimarin said.

"On our way as we were driving, we saw a man. He was talking on the phone. He said he would give us up."

Shishimarin said another Russian soldier in the car, who he said was not his commander and who he called an "unknown" soldier, "told me to shoot."

"He started to say in a forceful tone that I should shoot," he told the court.

"He said that I make up a danger if I don't. I shot him at short range. It killed him."

The youthful-looking soldier, dressed in a grey and blue hoodie, looked towards the ground with his head leaning on the glass defence box where he was held as Kateryna Shelipova testified on her husband's death.

Other Russian soldiers are expected to stand trial in Ukraine soon, as Kyiv says it has opened thousands of war crimes cases since Moscow launched its invasion.