There should be “a clear, legal recognition of Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism,” Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelenskyy said late Friday after dozens of prisoners of war were killed in an attack blamed on both sides.
Zelenskyy called the strike in a prison in a Russian-controlled area a “war crime” and said in a nightly video address that Moscow “has proved with numerous terrorist attacks that it is the biggest source of terrorism in the world today”.
Kremlin-backed separatists in the Donetsk region said Friday the attack on the detention center in the city of Olenivka killed 53 prisoners of war, including some arrested after the fall of Mariupol in May. They said 75 others were injured.
Russia denied being behind the attack, instead accusing Ukraine of using a US-supplied missile system to hit the detention facility near the Eastern Front.
NBC News was unable to independently verify either side’s claims.
Ukrainian security authorities called on the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross to send their representatives to inspect the site.
The ICRC said in a statement Friday that it was seeking access and offering its assistance in evacuating the wounded, reiterating that all prisoners of war, regardless of whereabouts, are protected under international humanitarian law.
The European Union’s High Representative, Joseph Borrell, also issued a statement condemning the Russian armed forces and accusing them of violating the law.
After a months-long siege of the Azovstal steel plant in the southern city of Mariupol, Ukrainian soldiers surrendered and were evacuated as prisoners to Russian-held territory in Donetsk, with the mediation of the United Nations and the ICRC acting as guarantors for their lives.
In a joint statement late Friday, Ukrainian security authorities accused Russia of “cynically” violating the agreement. The sudden transfer of prisoners to a new location, as well as phone calls intercepted by Ukrainians, would prove Russian involvement, the statement said.
Elsewhere, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the United Nations, told the UN Security Council on Friday that Russia had “effectively set the UN charter on fire.”
Moscow is considering plans to fully annex Kherson, Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhia, in clear violation of the UN Charter and “blatant disregard for the principles of national sovereignty,” she said.
However, in the Kherson region, where Ukrainian forces have launched a counter-offensive in recent weeks, the country’s military said on Saturday it had killed scores of Russian soldiers and destroyed two ammunition dumps in the area. NBC News has not been able to independently verify this claim.
Elsewhere in eastern Ukraine, Russian missiles hit a school building overnight in Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, and another attack occurred about an hour later, Mayor Ihor Terekhov said. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
According to Mayor Vadim Lyakh, the bus station in the city of Sloviansk was also hit. Sloviansk is near the front line of fighting as Russian and separatist forces seek full control of the Donetsk region, which along with Luhansk is one of two eastern provinces that Russia has recognized as sovereign states.
In southern Ukraine, one person was killed and six injured when shelling hit a residential area in Mykolaiv, a major port city, the region’s administration said.
But in a rare public statement on Saturday, Richard Moore, the chief of Britain’s foreign intelligence agency MI6, said Russia was “running out of steam”.
Moore made the above remark earlier post on Twitter from the UK MoD, which described the Russian government as “growing in desperation” and having lost thousands of soldiers in its invasion of Ukraine.
Associated Press contributed.
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/russia-ukraine-war-crime-olenivka-zelenskyy-united-nations-red-cross-rcna40760 Zelenskyj condemns the prison strike as a “war crime” and calls for an investigation by the UN and the Red Cross