The Ukrainian army denied carrying out rocket or artillery fire at Olenivka. The intelligence branch of Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that it had evidence that local Kremlin-backed separatists colluded with the Russian FSB, the main successor agency to the KGB, and the Wagner mercenary group. to undermine the barracks before “using a flammable substance, which leads to the rapid spread of fire in the room.
The official, who was not authorized to comment publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, said classified intelligence – which was recently declassified – shows Russian officials may even be planting munitions from rocket systems medium-range high-mobility artillery, or HIMARS, as evidence that systems supplied by the United States to Ukraine were used in the attack.
Russia should take action as it expects independent investigators and journalists to eventually gain access to Olenivka, the official added.
Ukraine has effectively used HIMARS launchers, which fire medium-range rockets and can be quickly moved before Russia can target them with returning fire, and has sought more launchers from the United States.
Earlier Wednesday, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was appointing a fact-finding mission in response to requests from Russia and Ukraine to investigate the killings at the prison.
Guterres told reporters that he did not have the authority to conduct criminal investigations, but he did have the authority to conduct fact-finding missions. He added that the terms of reference for a mission to Ukraine are being prepared and will be sent to the Ukrainian and Russian governments for approval.
Ukrainian prisoners of war in the Donetsk prison included troops captured during the fall of Mariupol. They spent months locked up with civilians in the giant Azovstal steelworks in the southern port city. Their resistance to relentless Russian bombardment became a symbol of Ukrainian defiance against Russian aggression.
More than 2,400 soldiers from the Azov Regiment of the Ukrainian National Guard and other military units gave up their fight and surrendered under the orders of the Ukrainian army in May.
Dozens of Ukrainian soldiers were taken to prisons located in areas controlled by Russia. Some have returned to Ukraine as part of prisoner exchanges with Russia, but other families are unsure if their loved ones are still alive or if they will ever return home.