War in Ukraine: UN launches investigation into explosions at Olenivka prison

The UN secretary general is to launch a fact-finding mission to find out the "truth" about the explosions that took place last week in Olenivka prison, in a pro-Russian separatist zone in eastern Ukraine.

War in Ukraine: UN launches investigation into explosions at Olenivka prison

The UN secretary general is to launch a fact-finding mission to find out the "truth" about the explosions that took place last week in Olenivka prison, in a pro-Russian separatist zone in eastern Ukraine. In addition, according to the Russian gas giant Gazprom, the return to Russia of a Siemens turbine presented as essential to the operation of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, which supplies Europe, is "impossible" because of the sanctions against Moscow.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will launch a fact-finding mission to uncover the "truth" about July 29 explosions at Olenivka prison in a pro-Russian separatist area in eastern Ukraine, he announced on Wednesday August 3, responding to requests from kyiv and Moscow. These explosions in the prison of Olenivka, where were detained Ukrainian soldiers taken prisoner in Mariupol, caused dozens of deaths, according to the Russian army.

“I decided (…) to launch a fact-finding mission” after having “received the requests from the Russian Federation and Ukraine”, said Antonio Guterres during a press conference, recalling that did not have the authority to conduct "criminal investigations". “The terms of reference for this fact-finding mission are being prepared,” he added, hoping to be able to find an agreement with Russia and Ukraine.

“We hope to obtain all the access facilities from both parties and to obtain the data necessary to establish the truth about what happened,” he said, adding that he was looking for the suitable, "independent and competent" people to integrate this mission.

The return to Russia of a Siemens turbine presented as essential to the operation of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, which supplies Europe, is "impossible" because of the sanctions against Moscow, said Wednesday the Russian gas giant Gazprom. "Sanctions regimes in Canada, the European Union and the United Kingdom, as well as inconsistencies in the current situation regarding Siemens' contractual obligations make delivery impossible," Gazprom said in a statement.

These statements are likely to increase the concern of European countries, which suspect Moscow of seeking a pretext to delay the return of this turbine and further reduce its gas deliveries. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has also accused Russia of being responsible for blocking the delivery of the turbine.

Gazprom says the equipment, which was returned to Germany after being repaired in Canada, is essential to ensure the smooth operation of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, which supplies Europe. Russia reduced the volume of its deliveries in June and July, saying that the pipeline could not function normally without it. The Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, with a daily capacity of 167 million m3 according to Gazprom, connects Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea. This tube is strategic for the gas supplies of Europeans, especially the Germans, very dependent on Russian energy resources.

Soldiers on Ukraine's eastern front have spent five grueling months punctuated by relentless shelling. However, it is sometimes the quiet moments when they think of their family that are the hardest. The 10th battalion of the Ukrainian army had begun to advance by digging new trenches in the black land two kilometers from the Russian border, before a break was necessary.

"There are sporadic bombardments. But currently it is the grain armistice for the harvest period on both sides," Sergeant Chekh, who identifies himself by his nom de guerre in accordance with security protocol, told AFP. . "But in two or three days, when it's over, the strikes will resume with renewed vigour."

Russia said on Wednesday it had destroyed a foreign weapons depot in the Lviv region of western Ukraine, a region bordering Poland rarely hit by strikes from Moscow. "Russian high-precision missiles" destroyed near Radekhiv, a "depot of foreign weapons and ammunition that were delivered to the kyiv regime from Poland," the Russian military said in a statement.

The army did not provide more evidence to prove its claims, and AFP was unable to verify these statements from independent sources. Russian forces also say they destroyed four ammunition depots, including one in the Mykolaiv region and three in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, as well as a fuel depot in the Mykolaiv region, according to the same source. The Russian army also claims to have killed more than 50 Ukrainian soldiers during a strike that targeted Mykolaivka, in the Donetsk region.

The United States on Wednesday ratified Finland's and Sweden's NATO accession protocols, after the two countries' historic decision to give up their neutrality because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The US Senate approved this resolution in a vote by a very large majority, with elected officials from both parties (95 votes for, 1 against). A two-thirds majority was needed to approve the text.

"This historic vote is an important sign of the United States' enduring and cross-partisan commitment to NATO, and the will to ensure that our Alliance is ready to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow" , welcomed US President Joe Biden in a statement. His administration ardently supported this ratification, which was supposed to demonstrate the solidity of the Atlantic Alliance in the face of expansionist Russia. In the United States, the Senate alone is empowered to ratify international agreements.

Switzerland, which has many refineries for smelting gold bars, is in turn banning gold imports from Russia, the government announced on Wednesday. The Federal Council (government) has once again aligned itself with the sanctions of the European Union which, on July 21, added a ban on the import of gold of Russian origin to the list of restrictions after the invasion of Ukraine. This ban came into effect Wednesday at 6 p.m., the Federal Council said in a statement.

With these new sanctions, Switzerland prohibits "the purchase, import or transport of gold and gold products from Russia", details the Council, specifying that "any service related to these goods is also prohibited ". Traditionally neutral, Switzerland had broken with its usual reserve in the days following the start of the war in Ukraine by aligning itself with the economic sanctions of the European Union. But the resumption of sanctions on gold imports by Switzerland was eagerly awaited. In May, three tons of gold from Russia had been imported from the United Kingdom, without it being possible to identify which company had brought them to Switzerland, revealed the Bloomberg agency.

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