Red Cross requests entry to Ukraine prison after POW’s death

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) – Russia has carried out nighttime attacks on several Ukrainian cities, Ukrainian officials said on Saturday, as she and Moscow blamed each other for the deaths of dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war in a separatist-controlled area in the east of the country. The International Red Cross requested a visit to the prison to make sure the wounded would receive proper treatment.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross have a duty to respond after the POWs are killed by shelling at a prison complex in Donetsk province.

“It was a deliberate Russian war crime, a deliberate mass murder of Ukrainian prisoners of war,” Zelenskyy said in a video address late Friday. “There must be clear legal recognition of Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.”

Separatist authorities and Russian officials said the attack killed 53 Ukrainian prisoners of war and injured another 75. The Russian defense ministry on Saturday released a list of the names of 48 Ukrainian fighters, ranging in age from 20 to 62, who died in the attack; it was not clear whether the ministry had revised the number of fatalities.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, which has organized civilian evacuations in the war and has worked to oversee the treatment of prisoners of war held by Russia and Ukraine, said it has requested access to the prison “to check the health and condition of to be determined by all attendees. on site at the time of the attack.”

“Our priority right now is to ensure that the injured receive life-saving treatment and that the bodies of those who have lost their lives are treated in a dignified manner,” the Red Cross said.

Both sides alleged the attack on the prison was premeditated and intended to silence Ukrainian prisoners and destroy evidence, including possible atrocities.

Russia alleged that the Ukrainian military used US-supplied precision missile launchers to shell the prison in Olenivka, a settlement controlled by the Moscow-backed Donetsk People’s Republic.

However, the Ukrainian army denied any rocket or artillery attacks in Olenivka. It accused the Russians of shelling the prison to cover up the alleged torture and execution of Ukrainians there.

Elsewhere in eastern Ukraine, Russian rockets hit a school overnight in Kharkov, the country’s second-largest city, and another attack took place an hour later, Mayor Ihor Terekhov said on Saturday. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Mayor Vadim Lyakh said the bus station in the city of Sloviansk was also affected. Sloviansk finds itself near the frontline of fighting as Russian and separatist forces attempt to take full control of the Donetsk region, one of two eastern provinces that Russia has recognized as sovereign states.

In southern Ukraine, one person has been killed and six injured in shelling that hit a residential area in Mykolaiv, a major port city, the region’s government said on Facebook on Saturday.

Friday’s attack on the prison reportedly killed Ukrainian soldiers captured in May after the fall of Mariupol, a Black Sea port city where troops and the Azov National Guard regiment famously held out against a months-long Russian attack. siege.

On Saturday, an association of black-clad relatives of Azov fighters staged a demonstration outside St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev, calling in a statement to designate Russia as a terrorist state for violating the rules of the Geneva Convention. for the treatment of prisoners of war.

A woman with dark glasses who gave only her first name Iryna waited for news about her 23-year-old son.

“I don’t know how he is, where he is, whether he’s alive or not. I don’t know. It’s a horror, just horror. For a mother, it’s the greatest loss when her child is gone “, she says.

Moscow has opened an investigation into the attack on the POW prison and has dispatched a team to the site of the Russian Commission of Inquiry, the country’s main investigative agency.

The Institute for the Study of War, a think tank based in Washington, said the competing claims and limited information prevented full responsibility for the attack from being assigned, but the “visual evidence available appears to support the Ukrainian claim more than the Russian one. “

On the energy front, Russia’s state-owned natural gas company said on Saturday it has halted deliveries to Latvia due to contract violations. Gas giant Gazprom said deliveries were halted because Latvia violated “conditions for gas extraction”. It was not worked out.

The statement likely referred to a refusal to meet Russian demand for gas payments in rubles rather than in other currencies. Gazprom has previously suspended gas supplies to other EU countries, including the Netherlands, Poland and Bulgaria, because they refused to pay in rubles.

EU countries are busy securing other energy sources, fearing that Russia will cut off more gas supplies as winter approaches.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk warned on Saturday that parts of the Donetsk region that remain under Ukrainian control will face serious heating problems this winter due to the extensive destruction of gas pipelines in the war. She called for a mandatory evacuation of residents of the region before the cold weather sets in.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the war between Russia and Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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