An explosion in the pro-Russian separatist area near Donetsk has left more than than 50 Ukrainian prisoners of war from the Azov regiment dead and over 70 injured. Ukraine and Russia are blaming each other for the attack on the prison camp. An independent investigation into what happened has not been possible so far. Commentators see Moscow as the culprit.

Today, Europe’s press debates the shocking attack on prisoners of war in Ukraine. Here are some opinions from a selection of European publications presented by eurotopics.

International organisations are powerless

Russia denied the Red Cross access to the site in the wake of the attack on the detention centre. Moscow is blatantly ignoring the rules that normally apply for international organisations, De Standaard laments:


“The UN, which should be the guardian of world peace, has not been able to prevent either the war in Ukraine or the war crimes. Secretary-General António Guterres is doing what he can, but even he can only look on powerlessly as Russia gives the finger to international organisations. … Because of the UN’s structure, every major power can veto decisions concerning itself or countries within its sphere of influence. This renders the UN a lame duck. If it wants to take any credit at all, it must shed light on the crimes committed.”

Justified fury must be controlled

Olexi Melnik, co-director of the foreign policy and international security programmes of the Razumkov Centre think tank, calls for the perpetrators of this crime to be punished in

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“Russia has already killed these people in several ways. First they tried to kill them physically. Then they tried to organise some kind of international tribunal to legitimise the future status. Now, they have clearly made this cynical decision. … We Ukrainians must now control our emotions and postpone retaliation until later. Under no circumstances should we vent our anger on the Russian prisoners of war. But under no circumstances should this crime go unpunished.”


A bid to cover up torture and abuses

The attack could have been staged to cover up abuses in the prison camp, Jutarnji list speculates:

“The video that surfaced a few days ago showing the torture of Ukrainian prisoners of war by Russian soldiers is also being cited as a reason for such an ‘operation’. But the [Ukrainian] news website Focus writes that something else was going on in the background – that this was an attempt to cover up misappropriation of the money Moscow is sending to fund the prison camp: Ukrainian sources report that an inspection team from the Ministry of Defence in Moscow was due to visit the camp on Monday. According to this theory the whole operation was a bid to cover up evidence of the torture of inmates as well as the theft of those funds.”

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