Ukraine: Footage shows damage to Antonivskyi Bridge
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Russia’s defence ministry reported the number of prisoners killed, adding 75 were wounded in the attack on a prison in the frontline town of Olenivka, in a part of the Donetsk region held by separatists. Video footage released by a Russian war correspondent appeared to show the charred remains of bodies and Russian-backed military personnel sifting through the burned out remains.
Ukraine’s foreign ministry condemned the strike and accused Moscow of committing war crimes in an appeal to the International Criminal Court.
It said in a statement: “We call on the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to urgently draw attention to the atrocities of Russian servicemen in the context of the investigation of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by citizens of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine.”
The ministry said such alleged crimes coincided with “another war crime by Russia – shelling of penal institutions in occupied Olenivka, where it is believed that Ukrainians were held prisoners of war.”
The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine claimed Russia deliberately hit the prison in order to hide traces of torture and murder of prisoners of war.
Russia’s defence ministry said the prison housed Ukrainian prisoners of war and eight prison staff were also wounded.
Russian-backed separatist leader Denis Pushilin has been quoted as saying there were no foreigners among the 193 detainees.
Intelligence officials from Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence said the newly-built prison held prisoners taken from Azovstal, a steel plant which had been under siege by the Russians.
A statement published on the Ministry’s website read: “[T]he explosions in Olenivka, which led to the death of the Ukrainian Defenders, are a deliberate provocation and an undeniable act of terrorism by the occupying forces.”
Kyiv has accused mercenaries from the Russian paramilitary Wagner Group of carrying out the attack.
The Ministry of Defence in its statement claimed the main aim of the attack was to hide the embezzlement of funds allocated for the maintenance of Ukrainian POWs.
It said a commission from Moscow was supposed to arrive at the facility on August 1 to check how funds had been spent and the conditions of the detained prisoners.
The statement read: “Since the real condition of the building and the conditions of keeping prisoners in it did not meet the requirements of the Russian leadership, the ‘problem’ was solved by destroying the premises, together with the Ukrainians housed in it.”
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It added the provocation was designed by those behind it to increase tensions in Ukraine because of the public interest in the fate of “the Heroes of Azovstal”.
Ukrainian intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov said: “In order to find out the real circumstances of the terrorist attack and prevent a similar incident in the future, I call on all international institutions to express a tough position regarding the events in Olenivka.”
He urged the International Movement of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, which is a guarantor of the safety and proper treatment of Ukrainian POWs, to investigate what happened and find out the real reasons for the killings.
Mr Budanov demanded Ukrainian officials be allowed to visit the scene to examine the site and gain control over the conditions of captured Ukrainian soldiers.
A spokesman for the separatists put the death toll at 53 and accused Kyiv of targeting the prison with US-made HIMARS rockets.
Separatists claimed Ukraine attacked after the prisoners of war began talking about crimes carried out by the Ukrainian military.
Spokesman Eduard Basturin said: “The political leadership of Ukraine decided to use US-[produced] multiple-launch rocket systems HIMARS to carry out a strike here to veil the crimes that the Ukrainian captives started talking about.”
Russian news agencies have also reported HIMARS rockets were to blame. Ukraine’s armed forces have denied carrying out the strike.
Disturbing video footage showed the remains of a cavernous, burned-out building filled with metal beds, some with charred bodies lying on them.
Other bodies were lined up on military stretchers or on the ground outside. Shell fragments had also been laid out on a blue metal bench.
It was not immediately possible to detect any identifying markings and it was not clear where the fragments had been collected.
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