Reuters, January 2 – On Monday, the Russian Ministry of Defense reported that 63 Russian soldiers had been killed in a Ukrainian New Year’s Eve attack on their barracks in the portion of Ukraine‘s Donetsk province that is under Russian control.
Makiivka is the twin city of the regional capital Donetsk, and online footage revealed what appeared to be a technical college destroyed to a field of smouldering ruins.
Defense officials in Ukraine initially estimated that 400 Russians had been killed. Senior Russian-backed regional official in Moscow-controlled parts of the Donetsk region, Daniil Bezsonov, claimed that the vocational college had been hit by U.S.-made HIMARS rockets at around midnight when locals would have been partying to ring in the New Year.
More than 100 people were injured in the hit, according to a Russian pro-war military blogger known as Rybar, who has over a million subscribers on the Telegram messaging app.
Rybar said that 600 persons were present, and that ammunition was also kept there. The death toll estimate was reported by Russia’s Defense Ministry in the final paragraph of a 528-word daily battlefield summary.
Although Reuters was unable to corroborate the authenticity of the tales from the battlefield, they were able to determine the location of the video based on the buildings and road layout visible in the footage.
Some of the 300,000 or more soldiers mobilized since September, many of whom have already been despatched to the front to assist Russia’s faltering military operation in Ukraine, were housed in the structure, a source close to the Russian-installed Donetsk leadership told Reuters.
Nationalist Russian war bloggers were seething with indignation over the high number of casualties. “the number of dead and wounded reaches into many hundreds,” Igor Girkin, a nationalist and former FSB officer who assisted Russia in annexing Crimea in 2014 and later organized pro-Russian militias in eastern Ukraine, stated in a Telegram post at 09:08 GMT on Monday.
In addition to storing ammo, Girkin, who has harshly criticised Russia’s military failings in Ukraine, claimed the bunker had chemical weapons. In the destruction zone [range] of HIMARS rockets, “this is not the only such (very dense) deployment of persons and equipment,” he noted.
And, no, this is not the first time this has happened. Another Russian military blogger with almost 700,000 Telegram subscribers, Archangel Spetznaz Z, recently wrote:
To put it another way, “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, there would be a lot of hurt or dead?”
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