More than 50 captured Ukrainian Prisoners of War died in an explosion at a prison in occupied Olenivka on July 29. Moscow accused Kyiv of causing the deaths by using a HIMARS multiple launch rocket system. Ukrainian authorities categorically denied the accusation, placing the blame squarely with Russia.

Independent experts cannot get to the scene to objectively investigate what happened. Based on analysis of videos, photographs and satellite imagery of the site, experts writing in several journals point to Russia’s version of events being false.

On July 30, the international intelligence community InformNapalm asserted its belief that a thermobaric bomb was used on the prison at Olenivka.

“It was not a GMLRS missile. It was a thermobaric weapon. Russia arranged it and did it (as always) incompetently,” InformNapalm commented.

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On August 1, Ukrainian prosecutor general Andrey Kostin made a statement about the Olenivka investigation in cooperation with international experts.

“The preliminary conclusions of international experts indicate that a thermobaric weapon was used in the attack. These are the preliminary findings of several international experts. It is certainly not a rocket attack – they are sure of that.” Kostin added that Russia is known to use thermobaric weapons.

Ukrainian artillery expert Oleg Zhdanov also commented on the Olenivka explosion to DW News.

“I have doubts that this was shelling. As an artillery officer I will say, there can be no black smoke after the explosions. During the shot – yes, but the explosions themselves are usually accompanied by the release of white smoke, Zhdanov said.

ISW Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 18, 2024
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ISW Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 18, 2024

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