Russia, Ukraine accuse each other of shelling prison; Kyiv targeted for first time in weeks: Latest updates

Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of shelling a prison in a separatist eastern region that reportedly killed dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war who were captured after the fall of Mariupol in May.

Russia said that Ukraine used U.S.-supplied HIMARS multiple rocket launchers in the attack on the prison in Olenivka, in the Russian-controlled Donetsk region. Officials from Russia and the separatist authorities in Donetsk said the attack killed 53 Ukrainian POWs and wounded 75.

The Ukrainian military denied any rocket or artillery strikes on Olenivka and accused the Russian forces of deliberately shelling the prison in Olenivka in order to accuse Ukraine of war crimes and also to cover up torture and executions there. Neither claim could be independently verified.

— Associated Press 

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Latest developments:

►Russian officials acknowledged Thursday that discussions involving possible release of WNBA basketball star Brittney Griner have taken place but said they should be not be conducted on a public stage.

►U.S. lawmakers were given an estimate of the number of casualties among Russian forces since the beginning of its invasion in Ukraine: 75,000 — significantly higher than previous estimates. There is no accurate total for casualties, and both sides have downplayed losses.

►The mayor of Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv, said a central part of the northeastern city was hit early Friday, including a two-story building and a higher education institution.

Russia targets Kyiv for the first time in weeks; 5 civilians wounded

Russian forces struck the Kyiv region with six missiles launched from the Black Sea on Thursday for the first time since shifting focus to the eastern Donbas region weeks ago after failing to capture the capital. 

Oleksii Hromov, a senior official with Ukraine’s General Staff, said the missiles hit a military unit in the village of Liutizh on the outskirts of the capital. Russia also pounded the northern Chernihiv region. 

Fifteen people were wounded in the Russian strikes, five of them civilians, Kyiv regional Gov. Oleksiy Kuleba said.

Meanwhile, five people were killed and 25 wounded in a Russian rocket attack on the city of Kropvynytskyi, about 150 miles southeast of Kyiv, according to the deputy governor of Ukraine’s Kirovohrad region, Andriy Raikovich. He said the attack hit hangars at an air academy, damaging civilian planes.

Ukraine pushes counteroffensive attack, British military says

Ukraine is gaining momentum in its counterattack while working to cut off access to the occupied city of Kherson, according to a British Defense Ministry assessment.

The British military said Ukraine has used its new, Western-supplied long-range artillery to damage at least three of the bridges across the Dnieper that Russia relies on to supply its forces.

Kyiv’s forces are planning to isolate Russian troops and leave them with three options — “retreat, if possible, surrender or be destroyed,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovich said, according to Ukrainian media.

Contributing: The Associated Press