Russia has denied the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) access to the penal facility in occupied Olenivka, Donetsk Oblast, where at least 40 Ukrainian POWs were recently killed in a suspected Russian attack, the ICRC said in a Twitter post On July 31.
To be clear, our request to access the POWs from Olenivka penal facility yesterday has not been granted,” the message said.
“Granting ICRC access to POWs is an obligation of parties to conflict under the Geneva Conventions.”
ICRC reiterated it will continue demanding access to the site of the tragedy.
Earlier on July 31, the Russian Defense Ministry agreed to let UN and ICRC experts examine the Olenivka holding facility.
Russian media claimed on July 29 that Ukraine shelled the penitentiary colony in Olenivka, where Ukrainian POWs – including service members from the Azov Battalion – were being held. According to Moscow, the alleged attack was carried out with U.S.-supplies HIMARS rocket artillery.
At least 53 Ukrainians were killed in the explosion, according to the Kremlin. Ukrainian law enforcement estimates the casualties to be around 40 dead and 130 wounded.
Ukraine’s General Staff denied Ukrainian responsibility for the “attack,” suggesting instead that Russia staged a false flag operation in order to conceal the torture and executions of POWs at the facility.
Volunteer media collective InformNapalm says that according to their independent investigation, the impacted site shows no evidence of HIMARS activity, but could have been carried out with a Russian thermobaric weapon instead.
Ukrainian military intelligence said that Russian private military company (PMC) Wagner Group was behind the atrocity, acting on direct orders from its owner Yevgeny Prigozhin – a close ally of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. According to the report, the explosions occurred at the recently-erected building, two days after Ukrainian POWs from Mariupol were transferred there.
Ukraine’s SBU security service published an intercept of a conversation between Russian military service members, which suggests Moscow’s forces were indeed behind the act of terror in Olenivka.
ICRC was an intermediary to Mariupol defenders laying down their arms and surrendering to Russian forces in May.