Ukraine says it shot down all the drones on the third night of the strikes

  • The third consecutive night of attacks points to a new Russian tactic
  • Kyiv says the Russian strikes are failing
  • It was reported that dozens of Russian forces were killed in the barracks explosion
  • Stern Putin’s New Year’s speech indicates no complacency
  • Zelensky says Ukraine is united

Kyiv, Ukraine (Reuters) – Russia acknowledged on Monday that dozens of its soldiers had been killed in one of the deadliest blows of Ukraine’s war, prompting demands from nationalist bloggers that commanders be punished for sheltering soldiers next to an ammunition depot.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said 63 servicemen were killed in the fire blast that destroyed temporary barracks at a former vocational college in Makevka, twin city of the Russian-occupied regional capital of Donetsk.

It added that four missiles were fired from US-made HIMARS launchers, claiming that two missiles were shot down. Kyiv said the number of Russian dead was in the hundreds, though pro-Russian officials called that an exaggeration.

Russian military bloggers, many of whom have hundreds of thousands of followers, said the massive destruction was the result of the ammunition being stored in the same building as the barracks, even though commanders knew it was within range of Ukrainian missiles.

Separately, Ukraine said on Monday it had shot down all 39 drones launched by Russia in the unprecedented third consecutive night of air strikes against civilian targets in Kyiv and other cities.

Ukrainian officials said their success proved that Russia’s tactic in recent months of launching air strikes to destroy Ukraine’s energy infrastructure was increasingly bungled as Kyiv beefed up its air defences.

Every mistake has a name.

Unconfirmed footage posted online in the aftermath of the Makeyevka raid on the Russian barracks showed a massive building reduced to smoking rubble.

Igor Girkin, a former commander of pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine who has emerged as one of the most prominent Russian nationalist military bloggers, said the death toll was in the hundreds, later amending his post to include the wounded in that number. He said that ammunition was stored at the site and Russian military equipment was not camouflaged.

Another nationalist blogger, Rebar, said that about 70 soldiers were confirmed dead and more than 100 wounded.

“What happened in Makiivka is horrific,” wrote Archangel Spetsnaz Z, another Russian military blogger with more than 700,000 followers on Telegram.

“Who came up with the idea of ​​putting people in great numbers in one building, where even a fool would know that even if they were hit by artillery, there would be many wounded or killed?” he wrote. He said commanders “could care less” about ammunition stored in disarray on the battlefield.

Every mistake has a name.

Russia’s admission of dozens of deaths in one incident was almost without precedent. Moscow rarely releases figures on its losses, and when it does, the numbers are usually low — it admitted only one death among a crew of hundreds when Ukraine sank its flagship cruiser Moskva in April.

Russia in the new year saw night attacks on Ukrainian cities, including Kyiv, hundreds of kilometers from the front lines. The night attacks represented a change in tactics, after months Moscow would usually space these strikes for about a week.

After firing dozens of missiles on December 31, Russia launched dozens of Iranian-made drones on January 1 and January 2. But Kyiv said on Monday that it had shot down all 39 drones in the latest wave, including 22 that were shot down over it. Capital.

Kyiv said the new tactic was a sign of Russia’s desperation as Ukraine’s ability to defend its airspace improved.

“They are now looking for ways and attempts to strike us in some way, but their terrorist tactics will not work. Our skies will turn into a shield,” Presidential Chief of Staff Andrei Yermak said via Telegram.

President Volodymyr Zelensky, in his final evening address, praised Ukrainians for showing their gratitude to the troops and each other, and said Russia’s efforts would prove futile.

“Drones, missiles and everything else won’t help them,” he said of the Russians. “Because we stand united. Only fear unites them.”

Ukrainian air defense systems worked throughout the night to shoot down incoming drones and warn communities of approaching danger.

“Night drone attacks are loud in the region and in the capital,” said Kyiv governor Oleksiy Kuleba.

Russia has turned to mass air strikes against Ukrainian cities since suffering humiliating battlefield defeats in the second half of 2022.

It says its attacks, which have deprived millions of heat and power in the winter, are aimed at reducing Kyiv’s ability to fight back. Ukraine says the attacks have no military purpose and are intended to harm civilians, which is a war crime.

Russia has razed Ukrainian cities, killed thousands of civilians and annexed swathes of Ukraine since Putin ordered his invasion in February, branding Ukraine an artificial state whose pro-Western stance threatens Russia’s security.

Ukraine responded with Western military support, driving Russian forces from more than half of the territory it had captured. In recent weeks, the front lines have been largely static, with thousands of soldiers killed in an intense war.

In a stern New Year’s Eve message filmed in front of a group of people in military uniform, Putin vowed never to let loose in his war.

“The main thing is the fate of Russia,” Putin said. “Defending the homeland is our sacred duty towards our ancestors and our descendants. Moral and historical righteousness is on our side.”

Reporting by Reuters offices. Written by Peter Graf, Lydia Kelly, Dan Belichuk, and Michael Berry; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Robert Purcell, Alexandra Hudson

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Leave a Comment