The Guardian - Peter Beaumont in KyivFri 29 Jul 2022 17.38 BST
Dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war have been killed in an attack on a prison building in Russian-occupied Donetsk that both sides in the war have blamed on each other.
Ukraine says Russia trying to hide the fact that Ukrainian prisoners of war were ‘tortured and murdered
Russia’s defence ministry said 40 prisoners were killed and 75 wounded in the attack on the prison in the frontline town of Olenivka. A spokesman for local, Russian-backed self-styled separatist forces put the death toll at 53. Both accused Ukrainian forces of striking the prison with US-made Himars rockets.
Ukraine said it believed about 40 people were killed and 130 were injured. Its defence forces denied responsibility and said Russian artillery had targeted the prison to hide the fact that the men held there had been “tortured and murdered”. The country’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said Russia had committed a “barbaric war crime”.
Ukraine accused Russia of attacking the prison as part of an “information war to accuse the Ukrainian armed forces of shelling civilian infrastructure and the population to cover up their own treacherous action”.
The country's military intelligence said the strike was a “deliberate act of terrorism” and the domestic security agency the SBU said it had intercepted phone calls which point to Russia being responsible. Ukraine’s prosecutor-general, Andriy Kostin, said he had opened a war crimes investigation into the blast.
There was no way to immediately verify either of the two versions of events.
Footage broadcast on Russian television said to be from the scene at the prison showed military personnel examining a building with a hole in the roof, tangled metal from bunk beds and blood trails among personal effects. Other images showed charred bodies and dismembered limbs.
Russian media later published pictures of what it said were fragments from a US Himars rocket, gathered together and placed on what appeared to be a bench rather located in situ.
The SBU said it had intercepted phone calls “in which the occupiers confirm that Russian troops are to blame for this tragedy”. The intercepted conversations indicate that the Russians may have placed explosives in the prison, the agency said in a statement. “In particular, none of the eyewitnesses heard any missile flying towards the correctional facility. There was no characteristic whistling, and the explosions occurred on their own.”
In addition, online video footage showed that the windows remained whole in some rooms of the facility, according to the SBU. That “indicates that the epicentre of the explosion was inside the destroyed building, and its walls took the hit from the blast waves, protecting some of the neighbouring rooms.”
The Ukrainian presidential adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, called for a “strict investigation” into the attack and urged the United Nations and other international organisations to condemn it. He said the Russians had transferred some Ukrainian prisoners to the barrack that was hit just a few days before the strike, suggesting that it was planned. The Russian allegations, he said, were “a classic, cynical and elaborate false flag operation” designed to discredit Ukrainian authorities.
Olenivka is about 10km south of occupied Donetsk and closes to the frontline. Establishing responsibility is likely to be highly challenging without independent access to the site.
According to reports, the Ukrainian troops who died were among those taken prisoner after the fierce fighting for the Azovstal steel mill complex in the port of the city of Mariupol.
The Azov regiment and other Ukrainian units defended the steel mill for nearly three months, clinging to its underground maze of tunnels. They surrendered in May under relentless Russian attacks from the ground, sea and air.
Scores of Ukrainian soldiers were taken to prisons in Russian-controlled areas such as Donetsk, a breakaway area in eastern Ukraine run by Russian-backed separatist authorities.
Some have returned to Ukraine as part of prisoner exchanges with Russia, but families of others have no idea whether their loved ones are alive, or if they will ever come home.
Friday’s attack raises serious questions about where the prisoners were being held, in what circumstances, and why they had not been moved to a safer location.
It also raises questions about the status of those killed. Under the Geneva conventions, registered prisoners of war would not be tried for legally participating in the conflict.
The claims of the death of the prisoners come amid continuing fighting.
In the southern city of Mykolaiv, Russian shelling killed at least five people at a bus stop, with images from the city showing a number of bodies lying in the street. While the city has been repeatedly hit by Russian forces, buses are still running to Odesa and other nearby towns, often used by residents for evacuation.
Reuters contributed to this report
I write from Ukraine, where I've spent much of the past six months, reporting on the build-up to the conflict and the grim reality of war. It has been the most intense time of my 30-year career. In December I visited the trenches outside Donetsk with the Ukrainian army; in January I went to Mariupol and drove along the coast to Crimea; on 24 February I was with other colleagues in the Ukrainian capital as the first Russian bombs fell.
This is the biggest war in Europe since 1945. It is, for Ukrainians, an existential struggle against new but familiar Russian imperialism. Our team of reporters and editors intend to cover this war for as long as it lasts, however expensive that may prove to be. We are committed to telling the human stories of those caught up in war, as well as the international dimension. But we can't do this without the support of Guardian readers. It is your passion, engagement and financial contributions which underpin our independent journalism and make it possible for us to report from places like Ukraine.
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Luke Harding - Foreign correspondent
*Follow the WEF trail to Switzerland to discover the Khazarian Mafia hiding behind Klaus Schwab and his cohorts. The US and its people have nothing to do with the disasters caused to the ordinary people of the Earth.
The Khazarians have once again constructed an intricate web, whose aim is to destroy the world's economy by setting people up against each other, blocking each other's supply chains, leaving just death and ruins.
What everybody must be aware of is that this is not a war to prevent Putin from occupying Ukraine, but an attempt by the evil Khazarian Jews/WEF/NATO to control yet another country in their growing New World Order. They are simply using Ukraine as a battlefield. Their plan is to destroy totally the world's economy and turn the population into slaves.
Like the Freemasons, they have also life-threatening rules in their membership, one being REVENGE, 10 times harder than was ever perpetrated on them.
Russia in particular, in the past, has expelled the Khazars several times. I have all of 7 detailed articles in book format on the Khazarian Jews if anybody is interested in further information.
Putin, and earlier also Trump, are the ONLY Presidents who have enough guts to see what they are attempting to do to the world population and have sufficient courage to do something about it.
The bottom line is for the people to regain their original, moral principles, which have intentionally been watered out over the past generations by our press, TV, and other media owned by the Illuminati/Bilderberger Group, corrupting our morals by making misbehavior acceptable to our society. Only in this way shall we conquer this oncoming wave of evil.
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