Ukraine, Russia Point Fingers After Shelling Kills POWs

Separatists say shelling killed 53 Ukrainians who were captured in Mariupol
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 29, 2022 8:20 AM CDT
Ukraine, Russia Point Fingers After Shelling Kills POWs
Ukrainian prisoners of war sit in a bus near a prison in Olyonivka, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, May 17, 2022.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine said Friday that a Ukrainian attack with US-supplied missiles on a separatist eastern region hit a prison and killed 53 Ukrainian prisoners of war who were captured in Mariupol—but Ukraine blamed the attack on Russian forces. The attack with HIMARS multiple rocket launchers on the prison in Olenivka, in the Russian-controlled Donetsk region, also injured 75 Ukrainian POWs, said Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Igor Konashenkov. Speaking before the latest update from the separatists, he put the death toll at 40, the AP reports.

Konashenkov claimed the strike was a "bloody provocation" aimed at discouraging Ukrainian soldiers from surrendering. In a statement, the Ukraine Armed Forces said Russian artillery had targeted the detention facility, the Guardian reports. "In this way, the Russian occupiers pursued their criminal goals—to accuse Ukraine of committing 'war crimes,' as well as to hide the torture of prisoners and executions," the statement said. After holding out for three months, around 2,400 Ukrainian troops in Mariupol surrendered in May under relentless Russian attacks from the ground, sea, and air. Some were taken to prisons in Russian-controlled areas including Donetsk.

Ukrainian authorities in the Donetsk region said Russia has pressed on with the shelling of civilian targets in Ukrainian-held areas. "The fighting in the region has been intensifying by the day, and civilians must evacuate while it’s still possible," said Donetsk Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko. "The Russian army doesn’t worry about civilian casualties. They are pummeling cities and villages in the region." (Read more Russia-Ukraine conflict stories.)

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