Posted on Jul 30, 2022
Ukraine has called for the United Nations and the Red Cross to be allowed to investigate the deaths of more than 50 Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) in an attack in Russian-occupied Donbas.
According to available information from Ukrainian intelligence, mercenaries of the Russian private military company, the Wagner Group, killed the Ukrainian prisoners of war in the town of Olenivka in Donetsk region.
The Red Cross for its part said it is seeking access to the prison in order to help with evacuating and treating wounded POWs.
All prisoners of war, wherever they are held, are protected under international humanitarian law. They are no longer part of the fight and should not be attacked. The ICRC has been able to visit some POWs and other detainees, but it hasn't been granted access to visit them all.
Unverified Russian video footage of the aftermath showed a tangle of wrecked bunk beds and badly charred bodies.
Exactly what happened at the prison camp in Olenivka, which is controlled by the Russian-backed separatist Donetsk People's Republic, remains unclear.
Ukraine says the site was targeted by Russia in an effort to destroy evidence of torture and killing. President Volodymyr Zelensky described the incident as a "deliberate Russian war crime."
Russia has claimed that the camp was hit by Ukrainian precision rockets., which Ukraine flatly denies.
Those detained at the prison are said to have included members of the Azov battalion, who were captured defending the southern city of Mariupol in May and whom Russia has sought to depict as neo-Nazis and war criminals.
An adviser to President Zelensky said the scene looked like arson, and that a missile strike would have scattered the bodies.
Ukraine's general staff of the armed forces called on the UN and the Red Cross to investigate the deaths, claiming that Russia had targeted the camp in order to cover up its treatment of POWs.
The Red Cross said it was seeking access to the site and had offered to help evacuate the wounded.
"Our priority right now is making sure that the wounded receive life-saving treatment and that the bodies of those who lost their lives are dealt with in a dignified manner," it said in a statement.
Ukraine's new Prosecutor-General Andriy Kostin earlier said he had opened a war crimes investigation into the blast.
Follow EU Today on Social media: