As international outrage intensified, Ukraine on Saturday called on global groups including the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross to quickly investigate an explosion that ripped through a Russian prison camp holding dozens of Ukrainian soldiers, leaving only the charred Corpses and twisted metal bunks. .
On Friday, Ukrainians quickly and forcefully pushed back against official Russian claims that Ukrainians used precision U.S.-made weapons to attack prisons and kill their own fighters to deter anyone who might consider surrendering to Russian forces.
Ukrainian officials say the idea that they will murder their own soldiers, many of whom fought to defend the Azovstal steel plant in the city of Mariupol and are widely regarded as national heroes, is absurd.
“This is a deliberate war crime by Russia, a deliberate mass murder of Ukrainian prisoners of war,” President Vladimir Zelensky said in an evening speech.
In May, the Red Cross oversaw the surrender of some 2,500 Ukrainian soldiers as they laid down their weapons at the steel mill. Many were taken to the site of the explosion: Correctional Institution No. 120, a prison camp near the Russian-occupied town of Olenivka in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine.
Mr Zelensky said the Red Cross, together with the United Nations, “acted as a guarantor of the lives and health of our soldiers” and now they must act. “They have to protect the lives of hundreds of Ukrainian prisoners of war,” he said.
red cross says in a statement It has requested access to the site of the attack and to maintain contact with the families of soldiers held there.
“Our priority now is to ensure that the wounded receive life-saving treatment and that the bodies of those who have lost their lives are disposed of in a dignified manner,” the agency said.
Josep Borrell Fontelles, the EU’s top foreign policy official, said in a statement Russia’s ongoing “illegal and unjustified war of aggression” on a daily basis has brought “further horrific atrocities.”
He said the attack on the concentration camp and a recent graphic video that appeared to show a Russian soldier castrating a Ukrainian prisoner of war were evidence that Russia had violated international law.
“These inhuman and barbaric acts constitute serious violations of the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols and constitute war crimes,” he said.
Estonian Prime Minister Kaya Karas said Russia was responsible for the “mass murder” of prisoners in concentration camps, an act she said was reminiscent of “the darkest chapter in history”.
“War crimes must never go unpunished, just as relationships with war criminals cannot be restored,” she said in a statement.
Critics of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine point to a statement Russian embassy in UK tweeted As evidence of how Moscow views prisoners of war.
“Azov militants should be executed, not by firing squad, but hanged because they are not real soldiers. They should be killed in humiliation,” the embassy said in a post on Twitter. Link to a promotional video shot in Mariupol.
Twitter has since flagged the claim as a violation of the platform’s rules on hateful conduct. The outlet wrote that it had left the post in place because “it may be in the public interest to keep the tweet accessible.”
Major Mykyta Nadtochii, the current commander of the Azov regiment, said the group viewed the attack on the POW camp as “an act of public execution” and that Russia “has become accustomed to the fact that even public violations, and no one will hold them accountable. Law, practice, and the rules of war.”
The commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian army, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, said that while the killing of Ukrainian prisoners caused “anger”, the military would continue to abide by “the norms of international humanitarian law”.
However, he also called for revenge.
“We will do everything possible – and impossible – to punish those who commit crimes against our fellow soldiers and civilians,” he said in a statement“There is no statute of limitations for these crimes. Beware, enemies, you will have nowhere to hide on this earth.”