Russia has launched night attacks against several Ukrainian cities, Ukrainian officials said on Saturday, over the deaths of dozens of Ukrainian prisoners in separatist-held areas in the east of the country. , said they and Moscow were blaming each other. The International Red Cross has requested prison visits to ensure that the wounded are receiving proper treatment.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross are obliged to respond after a shelling of prison facilities in Donetsk province killed a prisoner of war.
“This was a deliberate war crime by Russia and a deliberate mass murder of Ukrainian prisoners of war,” Zelensky said in a video speech late Friday. “Russia should be clearly legally recognized as a state sponsor of terrorism.”
Separatist and Russian officials said 53 Ukrainian prisoners of war were killed and 75 wounded in the attack. It is not clear whether the ministry has revised the death toll.
The International Committee of the Red Cross, which worked during the war to organize the evacuation of civilians and to monitor the treatment of prisoners of war held in Russia and Ukraine, said that “to determine the health and condition of all those present. and requested access to the prison,” he said at the scene of the attack. ”
“Ensuring that the wounded receive life support and that the bodies of those who lost their lives are treated with dignity are current priorities,” the Red Cross said.
Both sides claimed the prison attack was premeditated and intended to silence Ukrainian prisoners and destroy evidence involving possible atrocities.
Russia alleged that Ukrainian forces used a US-provided precision rocket launcher to target the prison in Olenivka, a settlement controlled by the Moscow-backed Donetsk People’s Republic.
However, the Ukrainian military denied launching rockets or shelling at Olenivka. It accused the Russians of shelling prisons to cover up alleged torture and execution of Ukrainians there.
Elsewhere in eastern Ukraine, Russian rockets hit a school in Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, overnight, followed by another attack an hour later, Mayor Ihor Terekhov said Saturday. . There were no immediate reports of injuries.
A bus station in the city of Sloviansk was also attacked, according to Mayor Vadim Lyaf. As Russia and the separatists seek full control of the Donetsk region, Sloviansk is close to the front lines of the fighting.
In southern Ukraine, one person was killed and six others injured in shelling that hit 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 took place in May after the fall of Mariupol, a Black Sea port town famous for resisting a months-long Russian siege by the Azov Regiment of the Army and National Guard. killed a Ukrainian soldier.
A group of black-clad Azov fighters’ relatives marched outside Kyiv’s Saint Sophia Cathedral on Saturday to designate Russia a terrorist state for violating the rules of the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war. issued a statement calling for
A sunglasses-wearing woman, whose first name was Irina, was waiting for news of her 23-year-old son.
“I don’t know if he’s fine, where he is, if he’s alive. , That’s the biggest loss,” she said.
Moscow has launched an investigation into the attack on the prisoner-of-war camps, sending a team from the Russian Commission of Inquiry, the country’s main criminal investigation agency, to the site.
The War Research Institute, a Washington-based think tank, said competing claims and limited information prevented it from pinpointing full responsibility for the attacks, but said that “the available visual evidence undermines Russia’s allegations.” It also seems to support Ukraine’s claims,” he said.
In the energy sector, Russia’s state-owned natural gas company said Saturday it had suspended shipments to Latvia due to breach of contract. Gas giant Gazprom said shipments had been suspended because Latvia had broken “conditions for the extraction of gas”. It didn’t elaborate.
The statement likely referred to its refusal to comply with Russia’s request to pay for gas in rubles rather than other currencies. Gazprom previously suspended gas shipments to her other EU countries, including the Netherlands, Poland and Bulgaria.
EU countries are scrambling to secure other sources of energy, fearing Russia will cut off more gas supplies as winter approaches.
Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk warned on Saturday that parts of the Ukrainian-controlled Donetsk region will face serious heating problems this winter as the war has destroyed widespread gas mains. . She called for a mandatory evacuation of residents of the area before the cold weather sets in.