Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is not making enough efforts to get access to Ukrainian prisoners held by Russia in Ukraine’s temporarily occupied territories of the Donbas and Crimea. He said this while addressing the plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe via video link, Suspilne reports.
“This has been going on since the beginning of the occupation of our Crimea and the Donbas (back in 2014, – Ed). There was no access to our prisoners. The Red Cross cannot get there. This has been going on for eight years,” Zelenskyy said.
The president emphasized that the Russians ignore all the rules of treatment of the Ukrainian prisoners.
“And now, after [Russia’s] full-scale invasion, thousands of our prisoners are in the occupied parts of Donetsk Oblast, where they are tortured, and whatnot is done to them. We know this. And the Red Cross doesn’t have access either,” he said.
Zelenskyy reminded that the Russians blew up more than 50 Ukrainian POWs in Donetsk’s Olenivka alone and called on ICRC representatives to find ways to access Ukrainian prisoners, as this is their very job:
“We, Ukrainians, cannot fight for an opportunity for the Red Cross (to access to prisoners, — Ed.). The Red Cross must ‘fight’ because this is their job, because they receive money for it, because the whole world is watching them, they must put pressure on Russia to get there,” the president said.
He suggested that there are such efforts on the ICRC’s part, but those are not sufficient.