Red Cross requests entry to Ukraine prison after death of prisoners of war

Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) – Russia has launched nighttime attacks on several Ukrainian cities, Ukrainian officials said Saturday, with Moscow and Moscow blaming each other for the deaths of dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war in a separatist-held region in the east of the country. The International Red Cross requested a visit to the prison to ensure that the wounded received appropriate treatment.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the United Nations The International Committee of the Red Cross has a duty to respond after the bombing of a prison complex in the Donetsk region that killed prisoners of war.

“It was a premeditated Russian war crime, the premeditated mass murder of Ukrainian prisoners of war,” Zelensky said in a video address Friday night. “There should 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 wounded 75. On Saturday, the Russian Defense Ministry released a list of 48 Ukrainian fighters between the ages of 20 and 62 killed in the attack. It was not clear whether the ministry had reviewed the number of deaths.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, which has organized evacuations of civilians in the war and worked to monitor the treatment of prisoners of war held in Russia and Ukraine, said it had requested access to the prison “to determine the health and condition of all persons present at the site at the time of the attack.”

“Our priority now is to ensure that the wounded receive life-saving treatment and that the bodies of those who lost their lives are treated with dignity,” the Red Cross said.

Both sides claimed the prison attack It was premeditated and aimed at silencing Ukrainian prisoners and destroying evidence, including potential atrocities.

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

But the Ukrainian military denied carrying out any missile or artillery strikes on Olinivka. It accused the Russians of bombing the prison to cover up allegations of torture and executions of Ukrainians there.

Elsewhere in eastern Ukraine, Russian missiles hit a school in Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, overnight, and another attack occurred an hour later, Mayor Ihor Terikov said Saturday. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Mayor Vadim Lyach said the bus station in the city of Sloviansk was bombed. Sloviansk is near the front line of the fighting as Russian and separatist forces are trying to take full control of the Donetsk region, one of two eastern provinces recognized by Russia as sovereign states.

In southern Ukraine, one person was killed and six wounded in the bombing of a residential area of ​​Mykolaiv, a large coastal city, the district administration said Saturday on Facebook.

Friday’s attack on the prison was reported to have killed captured Ukrainian soldiers in May after the fall of Mariupol, a Black Sea port city where troops and the Azov Regiment of the National Guard were known to withstand a months-long Russian siege.

On Saturday, an association of relatives of Azov fighters dressed in black organized a demonstration outside the Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv and issued a statement calling for Russia to be classified as a terrorist state for violating the rules of the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war.

A woman who wore dark glasses and gave only her first name, Irina, was waiting for the news of her 23-year-old son.

“I don’t know how he is, where he is, is he alive or not. I don’t know. It’s horror, just horror. It’s the biggest loss if her child is gone,” said the mother.

Moscow has opened an investigation into the attack on the prisoner of war prison, sending a team from the Russian Investigative Committee, the country’s main criminal investigation agency, to the site.

The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, said competing claims and limited information prevented the attribution of full responsibility for the attack, but that “the available visual evidence 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 had halted shipments to Latvia due to contract violations. Gas giant Gazprom said shipments were halted because Latvia had breached “gas extraction terms”. He did not go into details.

The statement is likely to indicate a refusal to meet Russia’s demand for gas payments in rubles instead of other currencies. Gazprom previously suspended gas shipments to other EU countries, including the Netherlands, Poland and Bulgaria, because they would not pay in rubles.

European Union countries are struggling to secure other sources of energy, fearing Russia will cut off more gas supplies as winter approaches.

Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshuk warned on Saturday that parts of the Donetsk region still under Ukrainian control will face severe heating problems this winter due to the massive destruction of gas pipelines in the war. And called for the mandatory evacuation of the residents of the area before the arrival of cold weather.

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