Russia to plant ‘evidence’ blaming West for Ukrainian prison camp rocket blast, US officials fear

Russia plans to plant ‘evidence’ blaming the West for Ukrainian prison camp rocket blast, US officials fear

  • The Olenivka prison was destroyed in an attack on July 29 leaving 53 PoW dead
  • Russia is faking evidence to claim Ukraine is responsible, US intelligence claims
  • The prison was in the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ in occupied eastern Ukraine

Russia is working to fake evidence to claim Western rockets destroyed a jail housing Ukrainian prisoners of war, Washington warned yesterday.

US intelligence officials say Russia wants it to appear that Ukrainian forces were responsible for the July 29 attack on Olenivka prison that left 53 dead.

Russia has said Ukraine’s military used US rocket launchers to strike the prison in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR).

The Ukrainian defence ministry claimed to have evidence the DPR colluded with the Russian FSB and Moscow’s mercenary group, Wagner, to mine the barrack before ‘using a flammable substance, which led to the rapid spread of fire in the room’.

A destroyed barrack at a prison in Olenivka, in the Donetsk People's Republic, an area controlled by Russian-backed separatist forces, eastern Ukraine, Friday on July 29

A destroyed barrack at a prison in Olenivka, in the Donetsk People’s Republic, an area controlled by Russian-backed separatist forces, eastern Ukraine, Friday on July 29

Russia has said Ukraine's military used US rocket launchers to strike the prison in the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) but the Ukrainian defence ministry claimed the DPR colluded with Russia to destroy the barrack

Russia has said Ukraine’s military used US rocket launchers to strike the prison in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) but the Ukrainian defence ministry claimed the DPR colluded with Russia to destroy the barrack

Satellite image of the Olenivka prison in the Donetsk region of Ukraine on July 27

Satellite image of the Olenivka prison in the Donetsk region of Ukraine on July 27

A US official said Russia might even plant ammunition from High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems as evidence that the weapons provided by the US were used, as it anticipates independent investigators and journalists eventually getting access to the Olenivka site.

Other Western officials yesterday said the lack of extensive damage, with bunk beds still left standing, would not have been seen had HIMARS been used.

Ukraine has effectively used HIMARS launchers, which fire medium-range rockets and can be quickly moved before Russia can target them with return fire, and have been seeking more launchers from the United States.

On Wednesday, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he is appointing a fact-finding mission in response to requests from Russia and Ukraine to investigate the killings at the prison.

A woman with fake blood stains brandishes a paper reading 'Olenivka' during a protest of friends and relatives of Azov battalion servicemen ofOlenivka near Donetsk, in Kyiv on August 4, 2022

A woman with fake blood stains brandishes a paper reading ‘Olenivka’ during a protest in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv yesterday

The Ukrainian POWs held there included troops captured during the fall of Mariupol.

They spent months holed up with civilians at the giant Azovstal steel mill in the southern port city.

Their resistance during a relentless Russian bombardment became a symbol of Ukrainian defiance against Russia’s aggression.

More than 2,400 soldiers from the Azov Regiment of the Ukrainian national guard and other military units gave up their fight and surrendered under orders from Ukraine’s military in May.

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