Ukrainian Attack In Makiivka Kills More Than 60 Russian Soldiers
- Rybar, a pro-war blogger with more than a million Telegram followers, said that around 70 people had been confirmed dead and that more than 100 people had been hurt.
- A source close to the Russian-installed Donetsk government told Reuters that some of the 300,000 or more soldiers who had been called up since September were housed in the building.
A Ukrainian attack on Russian-controlled territory on New Year’s Day killed more than 60 Russian soldiers. This is the largest loss of life reported by Moscow so far.
The defence ministry in Moscow said that four missiles hit Makiivka and killed 63 Russian service members. This was a rare announcement, but it was made because Russian military reporters were upset. It was the most deaths reported by the Russian defence ministry so far in a conflict that has been going on since February 24, 2016, when President Vladimir Putin told Russian troops to invade.
Online video showed that a building that was said to be a vocational college in Makiivka, a city in the part of Ukraine’s Donetsk province that is controlled by Russia, had been destroyed.
Daniil Bezsonov, a top Russian-backed regional official, said that US-made HIMARS rockets hit the college around midnight, when people would have been celebrating the New Year and watching President Vladimir Putin’s speech on TV.
Russia’s Defense Ministry didn’t say anything about the attack until more than 36 hours later, at the end of a 528-word daily summary.
Even then, it didn’t answer some of the claims made by bloggers who support the war. They said that the number of deaths was much higher and that the military had not only failed to hide its soldiers from the enemy but also kept ammunition close by.
Nationalist bloggers and talk show hosts with hundreds of thousands of followers have been given permission by the Kremlin to talk about how bad the army is. This could be illegal under a law that was passed soon after Russia invaded Ukraine in February.
Grigory Karasin, a member of the Russian Senate and a former deputy foreign minister, called for revenge against Ukraine and the Western NATO alliance, whose members have been arming it, as well as “an exacting internal analysis.”
Sergei Mironov, a lawmaker and former head of the Senate, Russia’s upper house, called for the officials who “allowed the concentration of military personnel in an unprotected building” and “all the higher authorities who did not provide the right level of security” to be charged with a crime.
In a post on Telegram, he said, “It’s clear that neither intelligence nor counterintelligence nor air defence worked right.”
Ukraine said that 400 Russians had been killed, but Russian bloggers said that this number was too high.
Rybar, a pro-war blogger with more than a million Telegram followers, said that around 70 people had been confirmed dead and that more than 100 people had been hurt. He said that there were about 600 people in the building.
Igor Girkin, who used to lead pro-Russian troops in east Ukraine and is now a well-known critic of Russia’s military, said on Telegram that “many hundreds” of people had been killed or hurt.
Like Rybar, he said that ammunition had been stored at the college, which could explain why it was so badly damaged, and that the military had not tried to hide its presence.
Another Russian military blogger, Archangel Spetznaz Z, who has more than 700,000 people following him on Telegram, wrote:
“Who thought it would be a good idea to put a lot of people in one building, where even a fool knows that even if they hit with artillery, many people will be hurt or killed?”
Reuters couldn’t check the battlefield reports, but the buildings and road layout in the video showed where it was shot. They couldn’t, however, find out when it was shot.
A source close to the Russian-installed Donetsk government told Reuters that some of the 300,000 or more soldiers who had been called up since September were housed in the building.
Many have already been sent to the front to help a campaign that has been going on for 10 months. During that time, Russia has been forced to give up large parts of the Ukrainian land it had seized and replace many of its top commanders.
The fact that so many of the dead were not volunteers or career soldiers is likely to make relatives and some of the ordinary Russians even more angry. In his New Year’s speech, Putin asked for help and sacrifices from the Russian people in the coming months.
Regional governor Dmitry Azarov was quoted by the Samara-based news site saying that some of the people who died were from his region. He also told worried family members to contact local recruitment centres for more information.