A number of Russian soldiers are believed to have been killed in the Ukrainian attack
An apparent Ukrainian attack in Russian-occupied eastern Ukraine appears to have killed scores of Russian soldiers stationed near an ammunition depot, according to the Ukrainian military, pro-Russian military bloggers and former officers.
According to Ukrainian and pro-Russian accounts, the attack took place shortly after midnight on Sunday, New Year’s Day, at a vocational school in Makhivika, Donetsk region.
The attack led to heavy criticism of the Russian military by pro-Russian bloggers, who said the military lacked defenses and was stocked with a large cache of explosives, which reportedly exploded when Ukrainian HIMARS rockets struck. School.
The Ukrainian military, while not directly claiming responsibility for the attack, said around 400 Russian soldiers were killed and 300 wounded. CNN could not independently confirm those numbers or the weapons used in the attack. Some pro-Russian military bloggers have estimated the number of dead and wounded to be in the hundreds.
The Russian Defense Ministry acknowledged the attack on Monday, saying “63 Russian soldiers” were killed.
A video of the attack is reportedly circulating widely on Telegram, including on a Ukrainian military channel. It shows smoldering ruins in which no part of the building appears to be standing.
“Congratulations and greetings to the separatists and recruits who were brought to the occupied Makhivka and imprisoned in the vocational school building,” the Strategic Communications Directorate of the Chief of Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in a telegram. “Santa stuffed about 400 corpses [soldados rusos] in bags.”
The Russian Defense Ministry said the Ukraine attack used HIMARS rockets.
Danil Besonov, a former official in the Russian-backed Donetsk administration, said in a telegram that “apparently, the high command still does not know the capabilities of this weapon.”
Russian propagandist Igor Kirkin, who blogs about the war effort on Telegram, said the building was almost completely destroyed by a secondary explosion of explosives piles.
Girkin has long been critical of Russian generals, who he says direct the war effort from the front lines. Girkin was previously the 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.
Another pro-Russian military blogger, Sergei Markov, said there was “a lot of negligence” on the part of the Russian command.
Boris Rogin, who blogs about the war effort under the pseudonym ColonelCassaud, notes that “incompetence and the inability to understand the experience of war continue to be a serious problem.”