According to U.S. authorities, Russia is attempting to falsify evidence in relation to last week’s fatal attack on a jail housing prisoners of war in an autonomous territory of eastern Ukraine.
According to a U.S. person aware with the intelligence conclusion, Russia is attempting to bury fake information to give the impression that Ukrainian troops were behind the attack on Olenivka Prison on July 29 that resulted in 53 fatalities and several more injuries.
Russia has said that the military of Ukraine attacked the jail in Olenivka, a village under the authority of the Moscow-backed Donetsk People’s Republic, using rocket launchers provided by the United States.
The military of Ukraine denied launching any artillery or missile attacks on Olenivka. In a statement released on Wednesday, the intelligence division of the Ukrainian defense ministry claimed to have proof that local separatists supported by the Kremlin had worked with the Russian FSB, the primary successor organization to the KGB, and the mercenary group Wagner to mine the barracks before “using a flammable substance, which led to the rapid spread of fire in the room.”
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make public comments, claimed that recently downgraded classified intelligence indicates that Russian officials may even plant ammunition from medium-range High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, as proof that the U.S.-provided systems to Ukraine were used in the attack.
The person said, “Russia is anticipated to take the step because it predicts that independent investigators and media would ultimately gain access to Olenivka.”
In order to successfully employ HIMARS launchers, which shoot medium-range rockets and can be transported fast, Ukraine has been looking to the United States for additional launchers.
Following calls for an investigation into the executions in the jail from Russia and Ukraine, Secretary-General of the UN Antonio Guterres said earlier on Wednesday that he is appointing a fact-finding expedition.
According to Guterres, he is only permitted to carry out fact-finding missions rather than criminal investigations. He also mentioned that the terms of reference for a mission to Ukraine are being created and would be submitted for approval to the governments of Russia and Ukraine.
Soldiers taken prisoner at the fall of Mariupol were among the Ukrainian POWs held in the Donetsk jail. At the enormous Azovstal steel plant in the southern port city, they holed up for months with civilians. Their tenacity in the face of a constant Russian bombardment came to represent Ukrainian resistance to Russian invasion.
In May, the Ukrainian military ordered more than 2,400 soldiers from the Azov Regiment of the Ukrainian National Guard and other military formations to give up the battle and surrender.
Numerous Ukrainian troops have been imprisoned in places under Russian control. While some have returned to Ukraine as part of prisoner swaps with Russia, other families are unsure of the whereabouts of their loved ones and if they will ever return.