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Shells Land on Ukrainian POW's Civilians, and Disrupt Exports

Olivia Chan provides a run-down of various missile attacks that have taken place over the course of the recent Russia-Ukraine war.

On 29 July 2022, a missile attack on a prison was reported in Olevnika, Donetsk, a Russian-controlled, separatist region of eastern Ukraine, leaving bodies and debris. [1] According to the Russian Defence Ministry, 40 Ukrainian prisoners of war were killed, with 75 prisoners and 8 guards wounded. [2] However, numbers vary as according to Russian-backed separatist forces, the death toll was at 53, while Ukraine believes 40 were killed with 130 injured. [3]

Both Ukraine and Russia have spoken out with different stories, blaming each other for the attack. [4]

Russian officials claimed that Ukraine used US-supplied HIMARS multiple rocket launchers to shell the prison. This was proven through a Russian image of a disassembled HIMARS rocket, however removed from the scene. According to Lieutenant General Igor Konashnkov, the Russian Defence Ministry spokesman, this “bloody provocation” was used as a tactic to discourage Ukrainian soldiers from surrendering.

However, Ukraine denied this claim and reaffirmed that they only aim at Russian military targets. Instead, they claim that Russia purposedly shelled the prison to accuse Ukraine of war crimes as a mask to “cover up their own treacherous action”, including torture and executions.

This was deemed a “deliberate, cynical, calculated mass murder of Ukrainian prisoners” by an advisor to the Ukrainian president, Zelenskyy. Subsequently, Ukraine called for a “strict investigation” into this matter and urged international condemnation by the UN and other organisations.

Ukrainian claims are further supported by data from the SBU, the domestic security agency of Ukraine, who intercepted phone calls. [5] Their evidence shows phone calls that indicate Russian responsibility. Additionally, eyewitness reports claim that they never heard any missile sounds near the prison.

Subsequently, the SBU suggested that the destruction may not be from a missile, especially as footage showed evidence of intact windows in some rooms, suggesting that “the epicentre of the explosion was inside the destroyed building”. Regardless, in response, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have requested access to the site for emergency evacuation of the wounded.

Relatedly, on 31 July 2022 in Mykolaiv, which is near the Ukrainian sea port, Odesa, suffered under “one of the most brutal shellings” since the beginning of the war, as described by Zelenskyy. [6] In this incident, the perpetrator was clear as multiple Russian rockets targeted and destroyed homes, schools, and infrastructure, killing 5 and wounding 25. Two victims included one of Ukraine’s richest business executives, Oleksiy Vadatursky, who founded Nibulon, an agriculture company important to the country’s grain exports, and his wife, Raisa.

This led to speculations that the shelling was strategic and targeted on Ukraine’s grain exports, especially as Mykolaiv is en route Odesa, which is Ukraine’s biggest port on the Black Sea, itself frequent victim to Russian attacks. Attacks on Odesa have already contributed to the export disruptions caused by the war, especially as the port is central to Ukraine. [7]

Subsequently, as Ukraine and Russia are major global wheat exporters, the war has landed heavy costs on soaring prices of wheat and grains. The resulting international food crisis began to be eased by an agreement brokered by the UN in Turkey, leading to the resumption of grain exports from Odesa. However, there are still plenty of steps, including ending the war, for grain exports to be running at full capacity again, thus casting dim light on the food shortage.

Yet, there is hope to an end, as Ukraine recently launched their counter-attack, already reclaiming many settlements and essentially severing the city of Kherson, leaving the Russian 49th army stationed near the Dnipro river stranded and “highly vulnerable”. [8]

This was highly strategic as Russia was found to be concentrating “the maximum number of troops” in the direction of Kherson, according to Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence council.

Thus, while war affairs may spell doom and gloom, this counter attack may prove to be considerable leverage for Ukraine to bolster a position in the upper hand and end the war.

[1] Blann, Susie. “Russia, Ukraine Blame Each Other For Deadly Attack On POW Prison In Donetsk Region.”, 29 Jul. 2022,

[2] Gadzo, Mersiha and Alsaafin, Linah. “Ukraine Latest Updates: Zelenskyy Says Ready For Grain Exports.”, 29 Jul. 2022,

[3] Beaumont, Peter. “Dozens Dead In Ukraine Prison Blast As Both Sides Trade Blame.” The Guardian, 30 Jul. 2022, https://www.

[4] “Russia, Ukraine Accuse Each Other of POW Prison Bombing Which Reportedly Killed 53.” ABC News, 29 Jul. 2022, https://www.

[5] (n 3)

[6] Dixon, Robyn., Walker, David., Nichols, Kendra.” Ukraine Live Briefing: ‘Brutal Shellings’ Rock Port City And Kill One of Ukraine’s Richest Businessmen.” The Washington Post, 31 Jul. 2022,

[7] “Oleksiy Vadatursky: Ukraine Grain Tycoon Killed In Russian Shelling of Mykolaiv.” BBC News, 31 Jul. 2022, news/world-europe-62367356.

[8] McCool, Grant. “Counter-attack Leaves Russian Troops ‘Highly Vulnerable’ In Kherson: UK”., 28 Jul. 2022, https://www.

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