The international community needs to take the steps necessary to officially designate Russia a terrorist state, following its execution of Ukrainian prisoners-of-war in occupied Olenivka, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video address on social media on July 30.
Zelensky insisted that all the evidence of the Russian attack will be collected and all the culprits would be found, calling the events a crime. The President added, however, that those actions, and diplomatic critiques, would not be enough to truly address Russia’s responsibility in the matter.
"There must be legal steps on the part of the world community against the terrorist state," Zelenskyy said.
“Condemnation at the level of political rhetoric is not enough for this mass murder. What can be the relationship with the terrorist after that? What kind of business can there be with such a country?"
He promised that Ukrainian diplomats and Kyiv's partners abroad would further increase efforts to destroy "all links of the terrorist state to the free world that Russia still enjoys."
According to Zelenskyy, the formal legal recognition of Russia as a terrorist state, in particular by the U.S. State Department, "is not needed as a political gesture, but as effective protection for the free world,” and expressed his confidence that the U.S. will ultimately take that step.
"A decision like this would automatically make it difficult for the terrorist state to exist, it will automatically break various political and business ties that Russia would otherwise maintain," Zelenskyy noted.
Zelenskyy said on June 6 that more than 2,500 defenders of Mariupol, who had previously been asked at the Azovstal steelworks, had fallen into Russian captivity following the city’s fall. According to the Ukrainian news website Ukrainska Pravda, 2,449 defenders surrendered and left Azovstal, most of which were believed to be held in the Russian-occupied town of Olenivka, south of occupied Donetsk.
According to Ukrainian intelligence, on July 29, explosions were recorded in the town’s industrial zone, in a recently constructed building that was intended to be specially designated for holding Ukrainian soldiers who had surrendered at Azovstal. Some of the captured defenders of Ukraine were transferred there just two days ago.
Ukraine’s General Staff accused Russia of attacking its own prison in Olenivka in order to claim that Ukraine was committing war crimes. The General Staff said that the Russians were attempting to cover up their torture and execution of Ukrainian prisoners at the site on the orders of the occupation administration by blaming Ukraine for their murder, instead.
Russian mass media reported that at least 53 captured Ukrainian servicemen had died in the blasts. The following day, the Russian Ministry of Defense published a list of 42 dead prisoners. Ukraine’s Prosecutor-General’s Office says that about 40 people died and 130 were injured as a result of the explosions.
Ukrainian ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets has said that the list of names of the dead has not been provided to him. According to him, Ukraine has begun a repatriation process for the deceased, and he has demanded the Russians provide him access to the scene.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba accused Russia of committing a “petrifying war crime” and called for Russia to be declared a terrorist state.
Presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak has demanded a response from the United Nations and international organizations to “the Russian war crime.”
Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate reported that the order to murder the Azov Regiment prisoners of war was given by the nominal owner of the Wagner mercenary company, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is known as “Putin’s chef” because his companies used to organize banquets for Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.
Ukraine’s SBU security service published an intercepted conversation that it said confirms that it was the Russians who committed the mass murder of Ukrainian PoWs in the prison colony in Olenivka.
Judging by video clips from social media, the SBU noted, that the windows in some buildings of the prison complex can be seen to be completely intact — this may indicate that the epicenter of the explosion was inside the destroyed building, and was not caused by external shelling.
The International Committee of the Red Cross, which served as a mediator when Ukrainian defenders in Mariupol surrendered, said that they were "familiar with the situation" and offered assistance in the evacuation of wounded Ukrainian soldiers in Olenivka and the free transfer of medicines, protective equipment and materials for forensic medical examination. The UN has promised to support the investigation of the events in Olenivka.