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Military expert: Thermobaric charge could have been used in Yelenovka | Ukraine and Ukrainians: a view from Europe | DW

Questions about what exactly happened in the colony in Yelenovka (located in the territory of the Donetsk region not controlled by Kyiv), where on July 29, 2022, more than 50 captured Ukrainian servicemen died as a result of an explosion, do not become less. Moscow accused Kyiv of causing the death of the prisoners a blow delivered to Ukraine from the United States by jet systems salvo fire HIMARS. The APU categorically denies these accusations.

Independent experts cannot get to the scene, although the Russian Defense Ministry said it would allow specialists from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the UN to enter in the interests of conducting an objective investigation of what happened. However, the ICRC was informed that, as of Sunday evening, 31 July,no access to Yelenovka they still don’t have. About what can be understood from the information that is available today, there was a conversation in the premiere edition of the DW News Show program with Alexander Plushev and Tatyana Felgenhauer. Ukrainian military expert Oleg Zhdanov answered questions from DW columnists.

DW: The Russian side published various videos, including those of the dead and wounded in Yelenovka, photos from the scene of the tragedy. In addition, satellite images of the colony made by the commercial company Maxar Technologies have already been uploaded to the Web. Please tell me what conclusions can be drawn from this visual information?

Oleg Zhdanov: I have very big doubts about the version with 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. This is the first.

Ukrainian military expert Oleg Zhdanov

Ukrainian military expert Oleg Zhdanov

Second. During the explosion, the scattering of fragments is observed. And this cloud should have looked like a high-explosive explosion. Here it looks more like internal explosions, in a building, than external ones, penetrating through the roof.

Well, and most importantly: the photos and videos from the inside show that all the beds are in place. And the bodies lie where the beds are. With a high-explosive explosion, beds and bodies should have been scattered in all corners of the building. It was supposed to knock out windows, rip off the roof and, if there were several explosions, perhaps there would be destruction of the building itself, cracks in the walls. And the entire sooty wall that we are shown on the video should be dotted with hundreds of fragments that are formed as a result of a high-explosive explosion. But the plaster on the wall is absolutely intact.

– Advisor to the President of Ukraine Mikhail Podolyak wrote on his Twitter that the Russian side could have detonated thermobaric charges inside the building. What is their effect, and do we see traces of this impact now, based on the information that we already know?

– I guess, yes. Thermobaric ammunition gives a volumetric explosion and burns out oxygen in the process. Therefore, the main type of injury that a person receives is a rupture of internal organs caused by exposure to a shock wave. In addition, there is a strong fire at the site of the explosion and there is no oxygen for breathing. This effect creates a thermobaric ammunition,in the common people called “vacuum”.

– Suppose experts from the Red Cross and the UN sooner or later get to the scene of the tragedy. After such an amount of time, when the bodies were taken away, some fragments of rockets were brought, is it possible to reliably draw any conclusions on the spot, to understand what happened?

– I think yes. If the specialists are experienced, especially if they allow forensic experts there, then they, for example, can take carbon deposits from the walls and determine the type of explosive that was used there. This is the most important, because it will help determine what type of explosion was and what kind of ammunition was used. After all, the filling of different ammunition is different, and the production of TNT is different.

The only thing I think is that the Red Cross can conduct such an investigation. Because Ukraine has a positive experience when ICRC experts investigated tragedy near Ilovaisk and proved that our wounded were finished off after they were deprived of the opportunity to defend themselves on the battlefield. I mean the shooting of our troops in the so-called “green corridor” in 2014.

But I very much doubt the UN experts. Especially because of the position of the UN Secretary General himself and his friendship with Putin.

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