Kyiv, Ukraine — Russia launched nighttime attacks on several cities in Ukraine, Ukrainian officials said on Saturday, as they and officials in Moscow blamed each other for the deaths of dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war in the separatist-controlled region of the country’s east. .
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross have a duty to respond after the shelling of a prison complex in Donetsk province that killed PWS.
“It was a deliberate Russian war crime, a deliberate mass murder of Ukrainian prisoners of war,” Zelensky said in a video address late Friday. “Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism must have clear legal recognition.”
Both sides alleged that the attack on the prison was premeditated and aimed at silencing Ukrainian prisoners and destroying evidence, including possible atrocities.
Russia claimed that Ukraine’s military used precision rocket launchers supplied by the US to target the Olenivka prison, a settlement controlled by the Moscow-backed Donetsk People’s Republic.
Separatist officials and Russian officials said 53 Ukrainian POWs were killed and 75 were wounded in the attack.
The International Committee of the Red Cross, which has organized war civilian evacuations and tasked with monitoring the treatment of POWS held by Russia and Ukraine, said it requested access to the prison “for the health and well being of all those present”. To determine the position” 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.
Elsewhere in eastern Ukraine, Russian rockets struck a school building in Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, overnight and another attack came about an hour later, Mayor Ihor Terekhov said on Saturday. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
According to Mayor Vadim Lyakh, the bus station in the city of Sloviask was also affected. Sloviansk is near the front line of fighting as Russian and separatist forces seek to take full control of the Donetsk region, one of the two eastern provinces that Russia has recognized as sovereign states.
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 Facebook on Saturday.
Friday’s attack on the prison reportedly killed Ukrainian soldiers who were captured in May following the fall of Mariupol, another port city where soldiers famously fought against a month-long Russian siege.
Moscow launched an investigation into the attack, sending a team from the Investigative Committee of Russia, the country’s main criminal investigation agency, to the site. The state RIA Novosti agency reported that fragments of a US-supplied Precision High Mobility Artillery Rocket System rocket were found at the site.
The Ukrainian military denied any rocket or artillery attacks in Olenivka, and accused the Russians of shelling the prison to cover up the alleged torture and executions of Ukrainians.
The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, said competing claims and limited information prevented the assignment of responsibility for the attack but “the available visual evidence appears to support the Ukrainian claim more than the Russian.”
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