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Life imprisonment for Ukrainian involved in Russian pizzeria attack

A man from Ukraine who assisted Russia in targeting a popular restaurant in the eastern city of Kramatorsk last June has been sentenced to life imprisonment.

The attack, which occurred on the evening of 27 June 2023, resulted in the death of thirteen individuals when a Russian ballistic missile struck the well-known Ria Pizza establishment.

According to Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office, a local resident was found guilty of directing the missile attack on the pizzeria in Kramatorsk. This individual was recruited by an intelligence official from the Russian-controlled area of the eastern Donetsk region, who tasked him with gathering information about the restaurant.

After agreeing to the offer, the man observed military vehicles with distinct license plates in the restaurant’s car park and military personnel inside the establishment. Subsequently, he clandestinely filmed two videos of the location, which were then sent to his handler via Telegram. Following this, he took steps to conceal any traces of his involvement.

The convicted individual has been handed a life sentence with the confiscation of his assets for the crime of high treason.

Kyiv has been actively pursuing individuals suspected of collaborating with the invading Russian forces since February 2022, particularly in the eastern and southern regions of the country.

In a separate incident on the same day, Russian drones targeted two apartment buildings and a power plant in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, resulting in the deaths of four individuals. These attacks are part of the ongoing escalation by the Kremlin in bombing civilian areas.

Russian forces have intensified their aerial assaults on urban centers in Ukraine in recent months, focusing on areas like Kharkiv near the Russian border. While the front line spanning approximately 1,000km remains largely at a standstill, Ukrainian authorities have noted increased probing by Moscow’s troops for potential vulnerabilities ahead of an anticipated major offensive in the summer.

The drone strikes in Kharkiv struck a multistorey building twice consecutively, leading to the tragic deaths of three first responders and injuring six others. Another 14-storey building was also hit, resulting in the death of a 69-year-old woman.

Previous accusations by Ukrainian officials have suggested that Russia deliberately targets rescue workers by employing a tactic of launching two successive missiles at residential structures – the first to lure responders and the second to inflict harm. This strategy has been likened to tactics used by Russian forces in Syria’s civil war.