Russia’s defense ministry on Friday accused Ukrainian forces of killing 40 prisoners in a strike in separatist-held eastern Ukraine.
CNN could not immediately verify the allegations, and the Ukrainian military told CNN that it had no information about such a strike.
In a statement, the Russian defense ministry said “the Kyiv regime deliberately carried out a bloody provocation.”
“The pre-trial detention center in the area of the settlement of Yelenovka (Olenivka), which contains Ukrainian military prisoners of war, including militants of the Azov formation, was hit by a missile attack from the American HIMARS multiple launch rocket system.”
The ministry claimed that “40 Ukrainian prisoners of war were killed and 75 were wounded. In addition, eight employees of the isolation ward received injuries of varying severity.”
The Olenivka prison near Donetsk has been used to house many of the Ukrainian soldiers who surrendered at the Azovstal plant in Mariupol several months ago.
The Russian defense ministry was reiterating claims made earlier by authorities in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, a separatist-held area of eastern Ukraine.
“It was a direct hit on the prisoner barracks. The result as of now: 40 dead, 130 wounded. They are still clearing the rubble. The numbers may increase,” the deputy information minister of the DPR, Daniil Beznosov, said on his Telegram channel.
Russia’s defense ministry claimed that “this blatant provocation was committed to intimidate Ukrainian servicemen and prevent them from being taken prisoner.
“The circumstances of this provocation are being investigated.”
Russian state television showed brief clips of video purportedly from the scene, showing a badly damaged building with a large hole in the roof. CNN could not independently verify the location of the video.