Russia and Ukraine accuse one another of an attack on a POW camp

Russia and Ukraine accuse one another of an attack on a POW camp
FILE PHOTO: A satellite image shows a closer view of a prison in Olenivka, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, Ukraine July 27, 2022. Satellite image 2022 Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERS

Last Thursday, a detention camp in Olenivka in the Russian-held territory of Donetsk, Ukraine, was attacked via a missile strike, killing at least 53 Ukrainian prisoners of war (POW) and injuring 75 others. So now, Russia and Ukraine are pointing fingers at each other for the strike.

Ukraine’s General Staff accused Russia of attacking the facility to hide the torture of POWs and to accuse Ukraine of war crimes by framing it for the strike. Ukraine later on Friday blamed the Russian Wagner Group for the attack, saying the mercenary group was acting under the personal direction of Yevgeny Prigozhin and the strike wasn’t coordinated with the Russian Defense Ministry. Meanwhile, Russia said that Ukraine used US-supplied rocket launchers to attack the prison to discourage Ukrainian soldiers from surrendering or giving information.

As both countries go through investigations, Ukraine is calling for Russia to be recognized as a state sponsor of terrorism. Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs has also requested the EU to adopt this label for Russia. Yesterday, Ukrainian President Zelenskiy urged hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians to evacuate the region of Donetsk, saying, “the more people leave Donetsk region now, the fewer people the Russian army will have time to kill."

Key comments:

“There must be legal steps on the part of the world community against the terrorist state. Condemnation at the level of political rhetoric is not enough for this mass murder," Zelenskiy said, urging Russia to be declared a terrorist state.

In a statement, the Russian Defense Ministry said it invited the UN and Red Cross to probe the attack “in the interests of conducting an objective investigation."

“Families must receive urgent news of and answers on what happened to their loved ones. The parties must do everything in their power, including through impartial investigations, to help determine the facts behind the attack," said The International Committee of the Red Cross, confirming it had not yet received full access to the attack site.

“We see all the brutality of Russian forces, that actually resemble a lot of ISIS, who we have been always calling a terrorist organization," Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs told Politico. “Let’s call a spade a spade," he added.