The missile attack in the Donetsk town of Olenivka, believed to have been carried out by Ukraine, has killed or injured most of the Ukrainian military prisoners held in the targeted local detention facility, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said on Saturday.
Earlier in the day, the United Nations offered to send a group of experts who would conduct an investigation into the attack if all parties concerned agreed.
“As a result of the deliberate missile strike on July 29 using the US multiple-launch rocket system HIMARS at the detention center in Olenivka, the Kiev regime killed and injured most of the 193 Ukrainian military prisoners held there. As of the morning of July 30, 50 Ukrainians were killed as a result of the missile attack,” Konashenkov said in a daily briefing.
Another 73 Ukrainian military prisoners were taken to medical facilities with serious wounds sustained in the attack, and all were given the necessary care, the spokesman said.
The Russian Defense Ministry released the names of Ukrainian military prisoners killed and wounded in the Olenivka attack. The lists contain 123 names, with the oldest casualty aged 49 and the youngest aged 20.
The detention center in Olenivka was shelled on Friday morning. The attack is believed to have been carried out by Ukrainian troops as fragments of US-supplied HIMARS missiles were found at the site.
The International Committee of the Red Cross offered its support in the evacuation of those injured by the strike in Olenivka on Friday. The organization stressed that all prisoners of war are under the protection of international humanitarian law and should not be attacked since they are no longer combatants.
The Russian defense ministry believes that Ukraine meant the attack as an act of intimidation to eliminate or prevent from giving testimonies, the militants of the neo-Nazi Azov battalion taken prisoner by DPR and allied troops.
Earlier, a US Defense Department official had said that even if the Ukrainian forces were behind the strike on the Olenivka detention facility housing Ukrainian prisoners of war in the Donbas, “they did not mean to do that.”
“If it happened to be a Ukrainian strike, I promise you, number one – they didn’t mean to do that. They certainly care about their own people, and they care about the civilians and military, of their own army,” the official said during a press briefing.
The official said even though the Russian military presented some pieces of munition for the US-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), which, according to Moscow, were used to shell the detention facility, it does not necessarily mean that Ukraine is the one to blame since the Russians forces have some of them.
Earlier in the month, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that Ukrainian soldiers were effectively using long-range rockets, including High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).
“Ukrainian forces [are] now using long-range rockets, including HIMARS, to great effect,” he told journalists at a briefing.
The United States, to date, has trained hundreds of Ukrainians on how to operate M777 howitzers, HIMARS, and Phoenix Ghost drones, among other weapons supplied to the country during its conflict with Russia.
Earlier in July, Pentagon policy chief Colin Kahl said on June 1, the United States obtained the promise of the Ukrainian authorities, including President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, not to use HIMARS against Russian territory.