Ukrainian missiles struck a building that housed Russian soldiers in an occupied city in Donetsk early on New Year’s Day, according to Russian proxy officials and the Ukrainian military.
The Russian defence ministry said that 63 service members died in the attack, a toll that would make it one of the deadliest single strikes against Russian forces in Ukraine since the war began.
A spokesman for the Russian-installed proxy government in the Donetsk region called the strike in the city of Makiivka “a massive blow”.
Igor Strelkov, a Russian former intelligence officer also known as Igor Girkin, said in a post on Telegram, the social messaging app, that the casualties included “many hundreds” of dead and wounded. But he added that it was difficult to know the true figure because many people “remained under the rubble”.
The building, described by both Russian and Ukrainian officials as a vocational school, was “almost completely destroyed” because “ammunition stored in the same building” detonated in the strike, Strelkov said. He added that many of the soldiers housed there were Russian recruits.
Video posted on social media showed firefighters at a severely damaged building and piles of steaming rubble. Ukraine struck the building using HIMARS, a guided rocket system supplied by the US with a range of dozens of miles, according to the Ukrainian army’s strategic communications directorate in a post on Telegram.
A spokesman for the pro-Russian proxy government in Donetsk, Daniil Bezsonov, said on Telegram that the attack took place a minute after midnight on New Year’s Day. Donetsk, one of four Ukrainian regions that the Kremlin illegally annexed in October, has remained the site of some of the heaviest fighting in Ukraine.
The city of Makiivka, which forms part of the metropolitan area of the regional capital of Donetsk, is well within the range of Ukraine’slonger-range artillery on the other side of the region’s jagged frontline.
News of the strike drew outrage among Russia’s prominent pro-military bloggers, many of whom criticised Russia’s armed forces for placing a large concentration of soldiers and military equipment within range of Ukrainian missiles.
Andrey Medvedev, a prominent cheerleader for the war, blamed military officials for placing Russian soldiers in a vulnerable position.
“For the 10th month of the war, it is dangerous and criminal to consider the enemy a fool who does not see anything,” he wrote on Telegram.
Drones hit Kyiv again
Russia attacked Kyiv with exploding drones early on Monday, officials said, in a follow-up strike to a major volley of missiles fired over the NewYear holiday. An air-raid alert sounded shortly before midnight, and explosions were heard about an hour later.
New York Times News Service