UN, Red Cross should probe POW deaths: Ukraine

Authorities in Ukraine have called on the UN and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to probe an attack in an occupied territory in Donetsk which led to the deaths of at least 53 Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs).

On Friday morning, Russian media outlets announced the shelling of a prison camp in Olenivka, reports Ukrayinska Pravda.

While the Russian outlets blamed the Armed Forces of Ukraine of targeting the camp where the POWs were being held, Kiev said that Moscow conducted the shelling to cover up the torture and murders of the captured soldiers.

On Friday night, President Volodymyr Zelensky held a meeting with military, intelligence and security chiefs, as well as the Parliament Commissioner of Human Rights to discuss the attack.

Following the meeting, a joint statement was issued by the Security Service of Ukraine which called on the UN and the ICRC, “which acted as guarantors of the life and health of Ukrainian POWs, to immediately respond to the terrorist act committed by the Russian Federation”.

The statement also demanded that representatives of the world bodies should be sent immediately to Olenivka “with the purpose of an inspection mission”.

In his nightly video address, President Zelensky said the attack was a “deliberate mass murder of Ukrainian POWs” by Russian forces.

“Every occupier, who abuses Ukrainians, who tortures and kills, should know that there will be punishment for this. If some of the Russian killers hope that they will not be brought to justice, that they will hide somewhere, let them know: they will be held accountable in any case. Geography, time, borders and walls will not stop a just retribution.

“There should be a clear legal recognition of Russia as a terrorist state. Russia has proven with numerous terrorist attacks that it is the biggest source of terrorism in today’s world. It’s a fact,” he added.

According to the BBC, those detained at the prison were said to have included members of the Azov Battalion, who were captured defending the southern city of Mariupol in May and whom Russia has sought to depict as neo-Nazis and war criminals.

There was also outrage in Ukraine on Friday at a shocking video circulating online that showed a POW being castrated in another area of Russian-occupied Donbas.

The Russian soldier filmed carrying out the attack in the town of Severodonetsk was identified as a member of a unit belonging to Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

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