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UN report says Ukrainian POWs in Olenivka not killed by HIMARS missiles, as Russia claimed

Closer view of damaged buildings of Olenivka prison after attack on 30 July, 2022. Maxar. Source: ISW.
UN report says Ukrainian POWs in Olenivka not killed by HIMARS missiles, as Russia claimed

Based on interviews with more than 50 witnesses and video footage, the new report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has concluded that the explosions in Olenivka prison which killed at least 51 POWs were not caused by HIMARS rockets, launched by Ukrainian armed forces as Russia previously claimed.

On the night of 28-29 July 2022, blasts were reported in the detention center in the occupied town of Olenivka, Donetsk Oblast, where the Russians were holding Ukrainian POWs from Azovstal, the last stronghold of the Ukrainian garrison of Mariupol that fell under Russian control in May 2022.

HIMARS missiles not responsible for killing Ukrainian POWs in Olenivka – UN

The Russians claimed that the Ukrainian Armed Forces hit the detention center with HIMARS. However, the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces stated that the Russians themselves had shelled the detention center to accuse Ukraine of “war crimes” and to cover up the torture of Ukrainian prisoners and executions.

According to the new report, the degree of damage to the walls, ceiling, roof, and windows of the barracks, the condition of the bunk beds inside, the size of the residual crater, and the impact radius are not characteristic of impacts by HIMARS ammunition.

“Even a single HIMARS rocket would likely have caused damage and destruction to the barracks and surrounding area on a significantly larger and more severe scale,” the report says. In addition, witnesses described to OHCHR hearing multiple explosions.

At the same time, OHCHR says that the precise type of weapon that killed Ukrainian POWs and its point of origin could not be determined. However, the pattern of structural damage appeared consistent with projected ordnance having traveled with an east-to-west trajectory.

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