White House officials believe Russia is preparing to fabricate evidence to blame Ukrainian forces for the deadly explosion at the Olenivka prison before outsiders visit the site.
An administration official told CNN they expect Russia to fabricate evidence, blame Ukrainian forces, and even have “reason to believe that Russia will go as far as to hold Ukrainian journalists accountable.” before the journalists arrived”.
The US supplied Ukraine with the HIMARS multiple launch rocket system earlier this year.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the attack on the prison, located in eastern Ukraine held by separatists, was “a deliberate war crime by the Russians.”
Earlier, Russia blamed Ukraine for the attack.
UN Mission: United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said at a press conference on Wednesday that the United Nations is looking to form a fact-finding group to study attack on detention facility At least 50 people died and dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war were injured.
Guterres told reporters in New York, Russia and Ukraine all demanded an investigation into the attack. He added that the terms of reference for the panel would need to be accepted by Russia and Ukraine before the fact-finding mission could begin.
Ukraine blames the group of mercenaries: The Intelligence Service of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine on Wednesday stated that the explosion of the building where the Ukrainian soldiers were detained “was carried out by the fighters of the military command center ‘Wagner’ using the a very flammable substance, leading to a rapid spread of flames in the premises.”
Wagner is a private military contractor whose fighters have participated in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as well as other conflicts in Africa and the Middle East.
CNN was unable to verify the claims of Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence Service, which did not provide evidence to support its allegations.
What Russia is saying: The Russian government has denied accusations from the White House that it is falsifying evidence.
“One thing can be said here, which is absolutely evident and absolutely proven about what happened in Olenivka. The people, namely Ukrainian prisoners of war, who were detained there, they died at the hands of the Ukrainian army,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists on a call Thursday. .
“Ukraine killed its soldiers in captivity. Many people were injured. Therefore, there is hard evidence here and there is nothing to hide,” Peskov said.
During the call on Thursday, Peskov said Russia had invited the UN and ICRC to visit the site. However, in a statement released on Wednesday, the ICRC said it had not yet been granted access to the site.
CNN’s Uliana Pavlova contributed reporting to this post.