More than a week later, the evidence is growing that Moscow was behind the attack, which would amount to an outright war crime.
Explosion at the Olenivka Prison
The explosion rocked the Olenivka Prison, where the Ukrainian captives were being held. Most of the prisoners of war held there had fought in the battle of Mariupol, taking part in the epic action at the Azovstal steel works plant.
In the immediate aftermath of the strike, each side blamed the other. Moscow claimed that the Ukrainian military launched an M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, strike against the prison camp in an attempt to dissuade Ukrainian troops from surrendering to Russian forces. But open-source investigations refuted the Russian claims almost immediately. Evidence started pointing to a Kremlin-orchestrated attack. Now, there is some official recognition.
Likely Russian Falsifications
According to Politico, two U.S. officials have confirmed there is no evidence of a HIMARS strike against the facility. The U.S. military has an understanding of which targets the Ukrainians engage with these weapon systems, in order to avoid an escalation in the event of a strike within Russian territory. It is in Ukraine’s interest to comply with this transparency requirement, since Kyiv depends so heavily on the continued support of the U.S.
A U.S. official then came out and stated that the U.S. intelligence community has information suggesting that Russia will try to falsify the facts of this incident.
“We expect that the Russian officials are planning to falsify evidence in order to attribute the attack on Olenivka Prison … to the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF),” the unnamed official the Washington Examiner, based on downgraded intelligence. “We anticipate that Russian officials will try to frame the UAF in anticipation of journalists and potential investigators visiting the site of the attack. We have reason to believe that Russia would go so far as to make it appear that Ukrainian HIMARS were to blame before journalists arrive.”
The evidence against Moscow’s claims continues to mount.
The Institute for the Study of War stated that it “assesses that Russian forces were responsible for the killing of 53 Ukrainian POWs in an explosion at a Russian-controlled prison in Olenivka, Donetsk Oblast on July 28.”
The Institute added, “Satellite and other imagery from the site indicate that the attack only damaged one building, did not collapse the walls of that building, and did not leave any shell craters in the vicinity, very strongly suggesting that the destruction of the prison was the result of either a precision strike or an internally planted incendiary or explosive.”
1945’s New Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.