Ukraine war update: Missile strike hits prison housing Ukrainian POWs, dozens killed

by Chris Lange

Chris Lange, FISM News


Russian defense ministry officials reported Friday that 40 Ukrainian POWs were killed and another 75 were wounded following a missile strike near the front lines of the Donetsk province. Moscow and Kyiv both accused each other of carrying out the attack.

The attack on the Kremlin-backed town of Olenivka in eastern Ukraine comes amid fraught efforts by the U.N. to resume grain shipments out of Ukraine against the backdrop of a looming global food shortage and fears of widespread starvation. 

Russian news agencies reported that Moscow’s defense ministry accused Ukraine of targeting the region with U.S.-supplied HIMARS rockets, according to Reuters.

A Ukrainian official in the southeastern town of Mariupol disputed Moscow’s casualty report, calling it “a lie.” The prison reportedly housed Ukrainian troops who were captured in Mariupol in May.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian authorities in the Donetsk region said Friday that Russia continues to indiscriminately shell civilian targets in cities and villages still controlled by Ukraine.

“The fighting in the region has been intensifying by the day, and civilians must evacuate while it’s still possible,” said Donetsk Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko. “The Russian army doesn’t worry about civilian casualties. They are pummeling cities and villages in the region.”

Friday marks the 154th day since Russia invaded Ukraine to conduct what the Kremlin has called “a special military operation.” Russia denies targeting civilians.

Lavrov to propose call with Blinken on possible prisoner exchange

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that Moscow will propose a time for a call with Secretary of State Antony Blinken to discuss Washington’s “substantial proposal” to release WNBA star Brittney Griner and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, according to Reuters. Both Americans are currently detained in Russia on unrelated charges.

It has been widely reported this week that Washington is willing to release convicted Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout as part of a possible deal.

Griner was arrested in February at a Moscow airport after vape cartridges containing cannabis oil were found in her luggage. She pleaded guilty to smuggling drugs into Russia and faces up to 10 years in prison.

Whelan has been detained in Russia for three years on charges of espionage. His twin brother said Whelan had traveled to Russia to attend the wedding of a fellow Marine, according to an ABC News report.

Moscow and Washington have previously struck deals to swap prisoners. The sides reached an agreement in April to exchange U.S. Marine Trevor Reed, who was detained for three years in Russia for allegedly striking a police officer, and Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who at the time was serving a 20-year sentence in the U.S. on drug smuggling charges.