The war in Ukraine: what we know about the deadly Makiivka attack

LRussia has admitted its heaviest military losses in an attack in Ukraine with the deaths of at least 89 soldiers in an attack on Makiivka in the country’s east. Monday afternoon, Russia’s Ministry of Defense announced, in very rare acknowledgment, 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 death toll rose to 89 during the night.

“The number of our comrades who died has reached 89,” General Sergei Sevryukov said in a video statement released by Russia’s Defense Ministry. “New bodies have been found in the rubble. A commission is currently investigating the circumstances of the attack,” he added. “But that has been proven to be the main cause […] is the massive activation and use by personnel of mobile phones within range of enemy weapons, contrary to the prohibition,” the general explained.

Also according to General Sergei Sevriukov, the attack took place at 00:01 on the 1stuh January (22:01 GMT Saturday 31 December) against temporary base in Makiïvka.

One of the strongholds in the hands of pro-Russian separatists

The city of Makiivka, located in the long-occupied region of Moscow, east of Donetsk, is a stronghold in the hands of pro-Russian separatists since their conflict with Kyiv began in 2014. According to a spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, Igor Konashenkov, who did not give a date for this attack, four missiles targeted the army’s “temporary deployment center”. Two other rockets were shot down, he said.

This 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 the Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, had put 5,937 dead in the army’s ranks. Russia.

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Ukraine reported 400 killed and 300 injured

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. 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 to the occupiers are being determined,” he added in a Facebook post on Monday.

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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-run Tass news agency that the bombing was made possible by the “extensive use of their mobile phones by the newly arrived military”, which would have allowed them to be geolocated by the Ukrainian army.

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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.

The Russian army was subject to criticism at home

The loss announcement caused shock in Russia, but also criticism of the Russian military command, which had been humiliated by a series of humiliating defeats on the Ukrainian front in recent months. “Even though the war has been going on for several months, certain conclusions have still not been drawn,” said blogger Boris Rojine, who is close to pro-Russian Ukrainian separatist circles, slamming the “incompetence” of senior Russian military officers.

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“Why do we keep installing (actuated) in hotels, dormitories and vocational schools? asked Russian war correspondent Alexandre Kots. 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”.

READ ALSOAhead of Ukraine, winter from all dangers Unusually in Russia, where public authorities remain secretive about military losses in Ukraine, about 200 people gathered with the approval of the authorities in Samara (centre), where some of the soldiers killed were from. Several people laid flowers in front of the eternal flame in one of the city’s main squares, before bowing respectfully.

According to local media, rallies also took place in other cities in the region, notably in Togliatti and Syzran.

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