over 60 Russian soldiers killed, what do we know about Makiïvka’s deadly attack?
What happened ?
Monday afternoon, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced, in an extremely rare event, that 63 of its soldiers had died in an attack carried out using the HIMARS missile system, a weapon supplied by the United States to Ukraine in its war against Moscow. and which made deep bombardment possible, far behind enemy lines.
The bombing took place in Makiïvka, a town located in Moscow’s long-occupied territory, east of Donetsk, a stronghold of pro-Russian separatists since their conflict with Kyiv began in 2014.
According to Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov, who did not give a date for the attack, four missiles targeted a “temporary deployment center” of soldiers. Two other rockets were shot down, he said.
The announcement is extraordinary: it is not only the heaviest casualty toll in a single offensive acknowledged by Moscow since the start of its invasion in February, but it is also the first communication of military losses since September, when Defense Minister Sergei Choigou put 5,937 dead in the Russian army’s ranks.
What do Ukrainians say?
Ukraine, which claimed to have carried out the attack by giving December 31, before the New Year, presented contradictory information about the loss of Russian soldiers at Makiïvka.
The strategic communications department of the Ukrainian army spoke on Telegram, in very flowery language, about 400 killed and 300 wounded.
The strategic communications department of the Ukrainian army caused 400 deaths
More soberly, the staff indicated they did not have exact information on Russian casualties, also counting “up to 10” the number of military vehicles “of all types” destroyed in this bombing. “Personnel losses for occupants are being determined,” he added in a Facebook post on Monday.
Why so many deaths?
The Russian army did not explain the reasons for the high number of casualties. Ukrainian troops simply designated a “zone of concentration” of soldiers at Makiivka.
On Sunday, Russian and Ukrainian media began reporting on these attacks, claiming that the affected buildings housed Russian conscripts, therefore non-professional soldiers. A source within the local separatist authority told Russia’s state news agency TASS that the bombing was made possible by the “extensive use of their cell phones by the newly arrived military”, which would have allowed their geolocation by the Ukrainian army.
According to former separatist commander Igor Strelkov, who is well-informed of the situation on the ground, the building housing the Russian troops was completely destroyed in the attack as ammunition was stored there. “Almost all the military equipment, which was near the building without the slightest sign of camouflage, was also destroyed,” he wrote on Telegram, estimating the number of victims at “several hundred”. According to the Telegram channel “Rybar”, one of the main pro-Russian sources on the war in Ukraine, the building holds 600 people.
What is the reaction in Russia?
The announcement of these losses caused shock in Russia, but also criticism of the Russian military command. “Even though the war has been going on for several months, certain conclusions have yet to be drawn,” said blogger Boris Rojine, who is close to Ukrainian separatist circles, slamming the “incompetence” of senior Russian military officers.
“Why do we continue to install mobilized in hotels, hostels and professional schools…”, Russia’s war correspondent Alexandre Kots wondered on his part. Igor Strelkov warned him that such a lethal attack could happen again “at any moment”, lamenting that Russian generals were “unable to learn in principle”.