The United Nations and the Red Cross on Saturday demanded entry into the prison where dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war were killed, but Russia has so far met their requests with silence.
The United Nations wants to investigate an attack on the Russian-held town of Olenivka in eastern Ukraine, which Moscow said killed 53 Ukrainian POWs and wounded another 75.
Ukraine says Thursday night’s deadly shelling was a “war crime”, while Russia claims Ukraine launched missiles that destroyed the building. Both sides say the attack was premeditated and aimed at silencing the prisoners inside and destroying evidence of possible atrocities.
“We are ready to send a team of competent experts to investigate with the permission of the parties,” Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, told Russian media. He said the investigation would require the consent of all parties, and added that the United Nations supports the Red Cross’s efforts to gain access to the site.
The prison held about 200 soldiers imprisoned in Mariupol, which was the scene of many of the war’s most gruesome atrocities, including many who were held captive during weeks of brutal fighting at the Azovstal steel plant outside the city. .
Late Saturday, Russia’s Defense Ministry released a list naming 48 Ukrainian fighters, aged 20 to 62. Some names were missing.
Ukraine’s Human Rights Ombudsman Dmitro Lubinet said Russia had not yet said when and how the bodies of the dead soldiers could be retrieved.
“I have requested this information. We haven’t received the lists yet. I know the Russian side has them, but we don’t currently,” Lubinets said. “I can only get the overall numbers – that is, how many. [prisoners] were held there, how many have been killed, how many have been injured.”
The families of POWs are also desperate for information.
“At the moment, my husband is not on the list and I believe that he is alive,” Alena Nesterenko, whose husband was taken to prison after surrendering at Azovstal, told the Guardian. “But a lot of people are dead, a lot of people are injured in Olenivka.”
“The three of us haven’t heard anything (from the Ukrainian authorities), so we assume they’re fine, another girl’s husband was injured and then there’s another whose husband was in the barracks who was killed, but He didn’t hear anything,” said Nesterenko.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said it requested access “to determine the health and condition of all those present at the site at the time of the attack.”
“Our priority right now is to ensure that the injured receive life-saving treatment and that the bodies of those who lost their lives are treated with respect,” the Red Cross said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Ukraine and Russia continued to trade allegations about being responsible for the attack.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the deaths “a deliberate Russian war crime, a deliberate mass murder of Ukrainian prisoners of war”. In a video address posted on Facebook late Friday night, “Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism must have clear legal recognition.”
Ukraine has appealed to the International Criminal Court over the attack.
“At this stage of the war, terror is the main weapon for Russia,” said Zelensky. Another Facebook video posted Saturday afternoon, “And therefore the main task of every Ukrainian in the world, every defender of freedom and humanity, is to do everything to isolate the terrorist state and protect as many people as possible from Russian attacks.”
Moscow launched its own investigation into the blast, sending a team from Russia’s main criminal investigation agency to the site.
The state’s RIA Novosti agency claimed that fragments of a US-supplied Precision High Mobility Artillery Rocket System rocket were found at the site, indicating the attack came from Ukraine. Those findings could not be independently verified.
Think Tank Institute for the Study of War tweeted that “the available visual evidence appears to support the Ukrainian claims more than the Russians.”
Separately, the Ukrainian military said on Saturday it had killed several Russian soldiers in fighting in the Kherson region and destroyed two ammunition dumps, the focus of Kyiv’s counter-offensive in the south and a vital link in Moscow’s supply lines. It has used Western-supplied long-range missile systems in recent weeks to severely damage three Dniepro bridges, cut off the city of Kherson, the first city captured by Russia since the February 24 invasion. .
Yuri Sobolevsky, the first deputy head of the Kherson Regional Council, asked residents to stay away from Russian ammunition piles. “The Ukrainian military is pitting this against the Russians and this is only the beginning,” Sobolevsky wrote on the Telegram app.
The attacks potentially isolate Russian forces from occupied Crimea to the west of the river and supplies to the east. Britain’s defense ministry said Russia had resorted to pontoon bridges and a ferry system to make up for the destroyed bridges.
The offensive is part of a broader Ukrainian effort to win back territory lost to Russia in the country’s eastern and southern regions.
In other Ukraine war developments
- Ukraine’s government announced on Saturday that all citizens of the eastern Donetsk region, which is partly occupied by Russia and the scene of fierce fighting, must leave before winter. Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk said the order applies to the approximately 200,000 citizens living there, as there will be no heating fuel or electricity available once the weather turns cold.
- US Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed efforts to bring the first ships carrying Ukrainian grain soon during a call with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dimitro Kuleba. Blinken also mourned the killing of the prisoners of war and “reaffirmed the US commitment to hold Russia accountable for the atrocities committed by its forces against the people of Ukraine,” the State Department said.
- Russia’s state-owned natural gas company Gazprom on Saturday halted shipments to NATO-member Latvia, saying Latvia brokers “conditions for the evacuation of the gas”, which will likely allow them to pay for gas in rubles instead of other currencies. Was talking about the denial of the country. Gazprom has suspended shipments and played politics with gas supplies to other EU countries, including suspending payments to the Netherlands, Poland and Bulgaria, as they will not pay in rubles.
- Mayor Ihor Terekhov said on Saturday that Russian rockets hit a school building in Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine, the country’s second largest city, overnight and another attack came about an hour later. There were no immediate reports of injuries. According to Mayor Vadim Lyakh, the bus station in the city of Sloviask was also affected. Sloviask is near the front line of battle in the Donetsk region. In southern Ukraine, one person was killed and six injured in shelling at a residential area in the important port city of Mykolaiv, the region’s administration said on Saturday.
post with wires