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Russia’s Defense Ministry on Friday claimed that at least 40 Ukrainian prisoners of war were killed after U.S.-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) were used by Ukrainian armed forces to strike occupied territory in the Donbas, and hit a Russian detention center.
A Ukrainian defense official denied the claims and told Fox News Digital it was likely a “brutal execution of POWs.”
The official said they have “99 percent certainty that this was a Russian strike.”
Ukraine’s defense ministry is still collecting information on the incident and the official was unable to verify the number of captive Ukrainian soldiers killed or injured in the strike.
Russia’s defense ministry claimed some 75 Ukrainian soldiers were also injured after a missile strike hit “a pre-trial detention center in the area of the settlement of Olenivka, where Ukrainian military prisoners of war, including fighters from the Azov battalion, are being held.”
Eight detention center employees were allegedly “injured to varying degrees of severity.”
Russian-backed separatist leader Denis Pushilin reportedly told Interfax that the detention center was located in the frontline town of Olenivka and housed over 190 detainees.
The Armed Services of Ukraine released a statement and claimed Russia purposefully hit the detention center with the intention of covering up “the torture of prisoners and shootings carried out there” and spreading propaganda by accusing “Ukraine of committing ‘war crimes’.”
“According to the commander of the Missile Forces and Artillery of the Land Forces Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the Armed Forces of Ukraine did not launch missile and artillery strikes in the area of Olenivka settlement,” the statement said.
The General Staff of the Armed Forces said that thanks to high-precision weapons provided by Western allies, Ukrainian artillery troops are able to conduct “exceptionally accurate strikes.”