Russia claims 40 Ukrainian POWs killed in strike with US HIMARS, Ukraine decries ‘brutal execution’

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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.”

n this May 23, 2011, file photo a launch truck fires the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) produced by Lockheed Martin during combat training in the high desert of the Yakima Training Center, Wash. 
(Tony Overman/The Olympian via AP)

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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.”

In this photo taken from video released by the Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, Ukrainian servicemen stand in font of a Russian serviceman after they leaved the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine.

In this photo taken from video released by the Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, Ukrainian servicemen stand in font of a Russian serviceman after they leaved the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine.
(Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

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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’.”

In this photo provided by Azov Special Forces Regiment of the Ukrainian National Guard Press Office, an Azov Special Forces Regiment's serviceman, injured during fighting against Russian forces, poses for a photographer inside the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. 

In this photo provided by Azov Special Forces Regiment of the Ukrainian National Guard Press Office, an Azov Special Forces Regiment’s serviceman, injured during fighting against Russian forces, poses for a photographer inside the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. 
(Dmytro ‘Orest’ Kozatskyi/Azov Special Forces Regiment of the Ukrainian National Guard Press Office via AP)

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“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.”

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