PAM FRAMPTON: How many youngsters must be told to sacrifice innocents and themselves to satisfy Putin’s maniacal whims?

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“There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.” ― Howard Zinn, American philosopher, Second World War veteran

Here’s what’s senseless about this war; any war.

A Russian solider, his head shaved, sits behind glass and metal in a Kyiv courtroom wearing a blue and grey hoodie.

Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin is 21 but looks 14 — barely old enough to shave, let alone be anyone’s sergeant, his face as raw and vulnerable as your own son’s was once.

Except your son wielded the controls of an Xbox instead of a Kalashnikov. His target was an animated villain, not an unarmed civilian.

Your son wore his helmet grudgingly at the skateboard park, not while clambering aboard a tank.

Shishimarin is being tried in Ukraine — the first war crimes trial of this conflict.

He has pleaded guilty to what he did: shoot 62-year-old Oleksandr Shelipov dead as he rode home on his bicycle in the village of Chupakhivka, a place about the size of Lunenburg, N.S., when the invasion of Ukraine was just four days old.

Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin is 21 but looks 14 — barely old enough to shave, let alone be anyone’s sergeant, his face as raw and vulnerable as your own son’s was once.

The BBC reports that Shishimarin was sitting in the courtroom this week just a few feet away from where the man’s widow, Kateryna Shalipova, was wiping her eyes, when he was asked if he had committed the crime.

“Do you accept your guilt?” the judge asked.

“Yes,” Shishimarin replied.



Shishimarin has asked Shelipov’s widow for forgiveness.

This, despite the fact that Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov contends the things Ukraine is accusing the Russians of doing are “simply fake or staged.”

This, from a regime whose propaganda machine is so finely calibrated that the architects of its distorted messaging have probably lost the thread of the truth themselves.

The Kyiv court heard that Shishimarin had been ordered to shoot the civilian for fear he would report the Russians, since they had stolen a car after their convoy came under attack — as if a car theft would have been on anyone’s radar during war.

Oleksandr Shelipov didn’t have a chance.

And Shishimarin won’t have much of one if he is convicted. He could spend life in prison for following instructions in a war he might not even believe in or understand.

Just another youngster sent off to slaughter innocents and be sacrificed himself on the maniacal whims of a narcissistic despot.

How senseless is war to pit people against strangers they neither know nor hold grudges against?

How bizarre that war sends small worlds crashing into each other — Kateryna’s life now inextricably linked to Shishimarin’s because they share an intimate connection to her husband: she was sharing her life with him and Shishimarin ended that life with a bullet.

It is imperative that war crimes are prosecuted, but aren’t the people giving the orders as culpable — if not more so — than those carrying them out?

Oleksandr Shelipov’s husband’s death was pointless. Useless. Wasted in vain.

What strategic objective was achieved in killing an unarmed man in a village far removed from the seats of power? Did it bring Vladimir Putin any closer to reaching his goals?

Wars are full of such terrible extinguishments of life — both individually and on a larger scale — leaving nations to mourn.

By all means, bring those accused of atrocities to justice.

But how many lives have been lost in this war for which there will never be justice? How many people have been murdered sight unseen, bodies buried in unmarked ground?

Who will atone for the families ripped apart, the children left orphaned, homes, infrastructure and precious cultural landmarks destroyed, whole cities and villages razed?

The French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre once said, “When the rich wage war it’s the poor who die.”

He might have said the poor, the young, the old, the innocent, the patriotic, the brainwashed and the misguided.

Everyone except the rich megalomaniacs who started it in the first place.

Pam Frampton is SaltWire Network’s Outside Opinions Editor. Email [email protected] Twitter @Pam_Frampton

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