Russia Will Blame HIMARS for ‘War Crime’ POW Attack, U.S. Suggests

Russia wants to portray the deadly attack that killed dozens of Ukrainian POWs in eastern Ukraine as being caused by US-supplied weapons, the White House said.

US intelligence believes Russia will try to collect false evidence to make it appear that Ukrainian forces are responsible for the July 29 attack on Olenivka prison, which left 53 dead and dozens injured, said John Kirby, Strategic Communications Coordinator of the White House National Security Council. . Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the strike a “deliberate Russian war crime”.

The fabrication would take place before journalists and researchers visit the site and engage the US-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).

A US-made HIMARS during live fire drills on April 14, 2016 in Crow Valley, Tarlac Province, Philippines. The White House said on August 4, 2022 that Russia would attempt an attack on the Olenivka prison in eastern Ukraine due to US-supplied weapons.
Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images

“We have reason to believe… that Russia would go so far as to make it appear that the Ukrainian HIMARS… which has been in the news so much lately, was to blame. And to do so before journalists arrived on the scene,” Kirby told reporters on Thursday.

“We have evidence, information that suggests they’re going to post evidence to perhaps contain bits of HIMARS,” he said, although he added that analysts could probably say “whether it did indeed come from the ammunition that HIMARS fires.”

News week has contacted the Russian Defense Ministry for comment on the US claims.

While he could not order a criminal investigation, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday that he would launch a fact-finding mission in response to requests from both Russia and Ukraine to attack the prison in the Russian-backed Donetsk People’s Republic. to investigate. .

The Ukrainian POWs killed and wounded included troops captured after being holed up for months in the gigantic Azovstal steel factory in the southern Russian port city of Mariupol.

Their surrender followed months of Russian bombing, and their resistance was a symbol of Ukrainian resistance.

Moscow has said the Ukrainian military has used US-supplied rocket launchers to attack the prison, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov rejecting US claims of fabricating evidence about the attack.

“It is absolutely clear what happened in Olenivka,” Peskov told reporters on Thursday. “Ukrainian POWs were killed by the Ukrainian army.”

Ukraine has welcomed the delivery of four more of the weapon systems whose agility and range have made a big difference to Kiev’s armed forces and have been used to hit dozens of Russian command centers and ammunition depots.

Last week, the US Department of Defense said it would supply more ammunition to Kiev’s armed forces as part of a $550 million security package.

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