The prison camp in Olenivka was targeted “under orders from the Wagner Group’s owner, the oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin,” HUR said in a statement, as quoted by Polish state news agency PAP.
Calling the attack “an act of terrorism,” the Ukrainian military intelligence service added that the blast had been intended to destroy evidence of the group’s financial wrongdoing in Olenivka.
Moreover, the attack had not been agreed upon with Russia’s ministry of defence, HUR said.
According to the military intelligence agency, the Wagner Group had embezzled state funds allocated for the upkeep of Ukrainian prisoners.
With an inspection from Moscow scheduled for August 1, “the ‘problem' was solved by blowing up the prison, together with the Ukrainians locked up inside,” HUR said.
It added that the strike was also “designed to sow tensions in Ukrainian society,” by killing the heroic defenders of Mariupol’s Azovstal plant, who had been held prisoner in Olenivka.
The strike on Olenivka
The rocket attack on the prison camp in Olenivka, in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, was carried out in the early hours of Friday.
According to Ukraine’s General Prosecution Office, at least 40 Ukrainian POWs were killed and a further 130 people were injured in the blast.
The Kremlin has tried to put the blame for the crime on Ukraine, the PAP news agency reported.
The Wagner Group
The Wagner Group is a private paramilitary organisation with links to the pro-Kremlin businessman Prigozhin, according to news outlets. The unit has been dubbed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “private army.”
The European Union last year slapped sanctions on the Wagner Group for carrying out torture, executions and killings in Libya, Syria and the Donbas, among other locations.
In March, the then Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that Moscow had brought some 1,000 mercenaries to Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.
Friday was day 156 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Source: PAP, bbc.com