Ukraine was accused by the Kremlin of killing Ukrainian prisoners of war held by the Russians with HIMARS. Many of these detainees belonged to the Azov
Just hours after more than 50 Ukrainian prisoners of war were killed on July 29 in a detention center in the Donetsk region, a Russian reporter displayed the remains of a US-made HIMARS rocket. HIMARS is a highly accurate, long-range rocket system.
This is how the Russian media offensive in court began: according to this version, Ukraine would have killed its own soldiers through an attack with HIMARS. The justification given by Moscow was that Ukraine did not want soldiers to confess to war crimes and still aimed to discourage others from surrendering. In response to the accusations, President Volodymyr Zelensky said these deaths were the result of a “deliberate attack by the Russians”.
Many of the prisoners in the center of Olenivka belonged to the nationalist Azov regiment. They were transferred there after surrendering at the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol in May. But does it make sense that Ukraine killed its own soldiers – many of whom were considered heroes for their resistance in Azovstal – while they slept?
The investigation, carried out by CNN International and based on analysis of videos and photographs, as well as satellite images from before and after the attack, and the work of forensic and weapons experts concluded that the Russian version of the events will be of an invention: it would have been almost impossible for a HIMARS rocket to have caused the reported damage to the warehouse where the prisoners were being held.
Experts consulted by CNN therefore rule out a HIMARS attack on Olenivka, but are unable to determine what killed or injured so many men. The lack of access to the site makes conclusions deficient. However, experts say most signs point to a raging fire and, according to several witnesses, the sound of rockets will not have been heard.
It is recalled that Olenivka, where the detention center is located, is in the part of the Donetsk region that has been under the control of pro-Russian forces since 2014, eight years ago.