An alleged Ukrainian attack seems to cause the death of a large number of Russian servicemen
An apparent Ukrainian attack in Russian-occupied eastern Ukraine appears to have killed a large number of Russian servicemen standing by an ammunition depot, according to Ukrainian military, pro-Russian military bloggers and former officials.
According to both Ukrainian and pro-Russian accounts, the attack took place shortly after midnight on Sunday, New Year’s Day, at a vocational school housing Russian recruits in Makiivka, in the Donetsk region.
The attack has led to strong criticism of the Russian military by pro-Russian military bloggers, who claim that the military lacked protection and was reportedly being housed alongside a large cache of ammunition, which is said to have exploded when the Ukrainian HIMARS rockets hit the school.
The Ukrainian military claimed that around 400 Russian soldiers were killed and 300 wounded, without directly acknowledging responsibility for the attack. CNN cannot independently confirm those numbers or the weapons used in the attack. Some pro-Russian military bloggers have also estimated that the number of dead and wounded could run into the hundreds.
The Russian Defense Ministry acknowledged the attack on Monday, saying “63 Russian servicemen” were killed.
Video of the attack scene is reportedly circulating widely on Telegram, including on an official Ukrainian military channel. It shows a smoking rubble heap, in which almost no part of the building appears to be standing.
“Greetings and congratulations” to the separatists and recruits who “were brought to occupied Makiivka and crammed into the vocational school building,” the Strategic Communications Directorate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said on Telegram. “Santa packed up about 400 carcasses of [soldados rusos] in bags”.
The Russian Defense Ministry said the Ukrainian attack used HIMARS rockets.
Daniil Bessonov, a former official in the Russian-backed Donetsk administration, said on Telegram that “apparently, the high command is still unaware of the capabilities of this weapon.”
Igor Girkin, a Russian propagandist who blogs about the war effort on Telegram, claimed that the building was almost completely destroyed by the secondary detonation of ammunition dumps.
Girkin has long been critical of Russian generals who he says are leading the war effort away from the front lines. Girkin was previously defense minister of the Russian-backed self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and was found guilty of mass murder by a Dutch court for his role in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014.
Sergey Markov, another pro-Russian military blogger, said there was “a lot of negligence” on the part of the Russian command.
Boris Rozhin, who also blogs about the war effort under the nickname Colonelcassad, said that “incompetence and an inability to understand the experience of war continues to be a serious problem.”