Russia is planning to frame Ukraine for a deadly blast at a prison that killed over 50 Ukrainian prisoners of war, the White House said on Thursday.
“We expect that Russian officials are planning to falsify evidence in order to attribute the attack on the Olenivka prison on the 29th of July,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters.
Kirby said Moscow’s efforts are coming “in anticipation of journalists and potential investigators visiting the site of the attack.”
Most of those killed in the attack were captured at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, which fell to Russia after a drawn-out siege, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.
The Kremlin has maintained the attack was carried out by a missile launched from US-supplied long-range High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), a charge steadfastly denied by Kyiv, which says photographic evidence points to a bomb being used to destroy the building.
It says Russia blew up the facility to cover up evidence of war crimes, including torture and executions.
Kirby said the US believes Russia is moving to plant evidence at the site of the blast to make it appear that Ukrainian HIMARS “were to blame.”
“It’s another common play out of the Russian playbook here to accuse others of what you did yourself. And I’m not a criminologist, but I reckon you don’t plant evidence unless you’re trying to put the blame on somebody else,” he said.