Dozens of Russian soldiers fear death in Ukrainian strike
A “significant number” of Russian soldiers were killed on New Year’s Eve when Ukrainian forces shelled a building housing conscripts in an occupied area of the country, officials say.
A “vocational school” in the town of Makiivka was hit by US-supplied HIMARS artillery, according to Daniil Bezsonov, a senior Russian-backed official in occupied Donetsk in the east of the country, adding that the building housed Russian soldiers.
“A significant number of dead and injured,” Bezsonov said in a Telegram article on Sunday evening.
Russian news agency TASS reported on Monday that 63 people had been killed, citing the Defense Ministry.
While Ukraine has not taken responsibility for the attack, its armed forces posted a cryptic message on Telegram on Sunday evening: “Due to ‘negligent handling of heaters’, neglecting protective measures security and smoking in an unspecified place, Santa Claus packed about 400 of the corpses of Russian servicemen in bags.
“About 300 others have more or less serious injuries,” the account added.
NBC News was unable to verify either side’s claims, and Russian and Ukrainian officials were not immediately available for comment.
On Sunday, the leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Denis Pushilin, said many civilian facilities came under Ukrainian fire during New Year’s Eve, according to TASS.
Bezsonov criticized the “massive deployment of personnel”, which he said contributed to casualties.
Russian forces have also rammed into towns across Ukraine in recent days, launching missile and drone attacks on key civilian infrastructure.
Overnight, the capital Kyiv was attacked by Iranian-made drones. Mayor Vitali Klitschko said 22 were destroyed above Kyiv, three in Kyiv’s outlying region and 15 in neighboring provinces.
“Following the night bombardment of the capital, the energy infrastructure was damaged. There are emergency power cuts in the city,” Klitschko said Sunday evening in a Telegram post.
Energy infrastructure was damaged as a result of the attack and an explosion occurred in a part of town, the mayor said. It was not immediately clear whether this was caused by drones or other ordnance. An injured 19-year-old man was hospitalized, Klitschko added, and emergency power cuts were underway in the capital.
Since October, Russia has carried out airstrikes on electricity and water supplies almost every week.
Anastasia Parafeniuk, Artem Grudinin and Associated Press contributed.