Russian soldier Vadim Shishimarin is seen behind a glass barrier during his court hearing in Kyiv on Wednesday. (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)
If you are catching up on the latest developments on Russian invasion of Ukraine on Wednesday, here's what you need to know:
A 21-year-old captured Russian soldier has pleaded "fully" guilty to war crimes at a trial in Kyiv: Vadim Shishimarin appeared before the first war crimes trial since Russia invaded Ukraine back in February. He is accused of killing a 62-year-old man in Ukraine’s Sumy region, according to the country's prosecutor general's office. It is the first war crimes trial held since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. The prosecutor expects there to be many more.
Discussions on Sweden and Finland's NATO membership applications continue: Turkey held phone calls with Sweden and Finland as well as Germany, the US and the UK to discuss NATO membership applications of Sweden and Finland, among other topics. Turkey communicated its expectations that its national security concerns will be addressed in the context of these applications. Erdogan has accused the two countries of harboring members of the separatist militant Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, and supporters of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey accuses of masterminding a 2016 coup attempt, which Gulen denies. US President Joe Biden is set to welcome the Prime Minister of Sweden and the President of Finland to the White House on Thursday in a key show of support.
Counteroffensive in Kharkiv: The Ukrainian armed forces say they have recaptured another settlement in the Kharkiv region, as troops continue their counter-attacks in the area. Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces in the Kharikiv oblast targeted a Russian tank, with the tank firing back as well, according to new videos circulating on social media. CNN has geolocated and verified the authenticity of the videos. It's unclear when the firefight with the tank happened, but it took place near the village of Nove, just 8 miles (about 12 kilometers) south of the Ukraine-Russia border. Ukrainians also reported heavy fighting in the Luhansk region, where Russian forces continue attempts to destroy Ukrainian defenses.
Mariupol evacuations: Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said
Wednesday that a total of 959 Ukrainian soldiers, including 80 wounded, had laid down their arms and surrendered since May 16. He reaffirmed that 51 wounded were sent to the hospital at Novoazovsk, which is in the self-declared region of the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR). CNN is unable to confirm the Russian tally. The Ukrainian President said Tuesday the negotiation process on evacuating the last soldiers from the Azovstal steel plant continues with Russia. Amnesty International, meanwhile, has said that Ukrainian soldiers who surrendered at the Azovstal plant must not be ill-treated and should get immediate access to the International Red Cross.
NATO doesn't expect any major battlefield gains for either side in the coming weeks: "I think we'll be in a standstill for a while," a NATO military official with knowledge of the intelligence told CNN on Wednesday. According to the official, the current NATO discussion is that the momentum has shifted significantly in favor of Ukraine. The debate within NATO circles, the official added, is now over whether it is possible for Kyiv to retake Crimea and the Donbas territories seized by Russia and Russian-backed separatists, respectively, in 2014.
EU unveils $220-billion renewable energy plan to sidestep Russian gas: The European Union Commission announced a 210 billion euro plan ($221 billion) on Wednesday to boost the bloc’s target for renewable energy from 40% to 45% by 2030, as part of efforts to move away from Russian hydrocarbons. The news comes as Finland’s main gas company, Gasum, is warning that Russian gas supplies could be cut off this weekend. On Tuesday, Gasum said it would not pay for Russian gas in rubles or use Gazprom’s proposed payment scheme for gas. In a statement, the company said negotiations over a long-term gas contract with Gazprom were in dispute, and it was taking Gazprom to arbitration to try and resolve the matter.
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