Dozens of Russian soldiers have been killed in a missile strike in the occupied Donetsk region in one of the deadliest attacks on Kremlin forces since the war began more than 10 months ago.
The exact number of dead soldiers is disputed by both sides: Ukraine claims up to 400 Russians were killed, while the Russian Defense Ministry said 63.
Ukrainian forces fired six rockets from a HIMARS launch system and two of them were shot down, according to a Russian Defense Ministry statement.
The strike, using a US-supplied precision weapon that proved essential in enabling Ukrainian forces to hit key targets, caused yet another setback for Russia, which in recent months has been rocked by a Ukrainian counter-offensive.
Footage shared by Ukrainian officials, which Sky News geotagged to a vocational school in Makiivka, showed a flattened site covered in rubble.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry claimed that up to 400 Russians were killed “as a result of ‘careless handling of heaters'” and another 300 were injured.
However, sources close to Russian-appointed leaders in the Donetsk region claimed that casualty reports were exaggerated and that dozens of Russian recruits had been killed.
Daniil Bezsonov, a senior Russian-backed official in occupied parts of Donetsk, said the missile hit Makiivka two minutes after midnight on New Year’s Day.
Russian nationalist war bloggers were seething with anger over the heavy loss of soldiers.
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Igor Girkin, a former commander of pro-Russian troops in eastern Ukraine who became one of the most prominent Russian nationalist military bloggers, said the death toll was in the hundreds.
A pro-war Russian military blogger known as Rybar, who has more than a million Telegram subscribers, said more than 100 people were injured in the strike and the rubble was still falling. to be cleared away.
Ammunition had apparently been stored in the building, which exploded when the barracks was hit.
Meanwhile, Russia deployed several explosive drones in another nighttime attack on Ukraine, officials said Monday, as the Kremlin signaled no letup in its strategy of using bombings to target the country. country’s energy infrastructure.
On Monday, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said 40 drones “headed towards Kyiv” overnight. All were destroyed, according to the Air Defense Forces.