Moscow says strike on Russian-held territory killed dozens of soldiers

AFP — Russia admitted on Monday that dozens of its soldiers were killed in a Ukrainian strike on Russian-held territory during a bloody New Year weekend for both sides in the conflict.

In an extremely rare announcement, the Russian Defense Ministry said 63 Russian servicemen had been killed “as a result of a four-missile strike” in the occupied town of Makiivka in eastern Ukraine.

It is the largest loss of life reported by the Russian side to date in a conflict that has dragged on since President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Russian troops on February 24 last year.

The Russian Defense Ministry did not specify when the strike took place, but Ukrainian forces reportedly struck as Russian troops rang in the New Year.

The ministry said US-supplied Himars rocket systems were used and the target was a temporary deployment point.

Without claiming the strike, the Ukrainian army suffered many more deaths, claiming that nearly 400 soldiers had been killed.

Russian strikes in different parts of Ukraine on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day killed at least five people.

The Ukrainian capital came under fire from Iranian-made drones again on Monday, although Ukrainian forces said the majority were shot down by air defenses.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko reported an explosion in northeast Kyiv and said emergency services had been dispatched.

“An injured 19-year-old man was hospitalized in the capital’s Desnyanskyi district,” he said.

Authorities later said he was hit by falling debris.

Following the strikes, electricity company Ukrenergo said the electricity supply situation in Kyiv was now “more complicated”.

“That’s why emergency shutdowns are now in effect,” he said on social media.

The Russian New Year assaults – which targeted the inner cities of major cities – show a change in tactics, said an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“Russia has no more military objectives and is trying to kill as many civilians as possible and destroy more civilian facilities,” Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted.

“A war to kill.

– Hospital strike –

On Saturday, Russian artillery hit the village of Naddniprianske outside the southern city of Kherson, seriously injuring a 13-year-old boy.

Then the Russian army hit the hospital where the boy was in intensive care, smashing the windows.

“What did the 13-year-old boy do to those inhumans that they tried to kill him twice?” Governor Yaroslav Yanushevych said on the Telegram messaging app.

The Russian assault damaged the hospital in Kherson and also left the city and surrounding settlements without electricity.

Russian forces withdrew in November from Kherson, the only regional capital held by Moscow, but continued to batter the city.

In Kyiv, Police Chief Andriy Nebitov posted a photo of the wreckage of a downed drone over the weekend that featured the words “Happy New Year” in Russian.

“This is all you need to know about the terrorist state and its military,” he wrote.

– ‘Extreme difficulty’ –

After suffering a string of humiliating battlefield defeats, Moscow began targeting power and other critical infrastructure in October.

The strikes caused widespread power outages and cut off water supplies and heating for civilians as the temperature in some areas fell below zero.

The UN human rights chief warned that the campaign had inflicted “extreme hardship” on Ukrainians and also denounced probable war crimes by Russian forces.

But Putin said during his midnight speech on New Year’s Eve that “moral and historical correctness is on our side”.

Moscow said the New Year attacks targeted the pro-Western country’s drone production.

“The Kyiv regime’s plans to carry out terrorist attacks against Russia in the near future have been thwarted,” the Russian Defense Ministry said.

Russia has accused Ukraine of targeting its national military sites and infrastructure.

In December, Moscow said it shot down drones three times over or near Engels Airfield, an airbase in southern Russia more than 600 kilometers (370 miles) from Ukraine. . Falling debris killed three people in one such attack.

In early December, another base in Russia’s Ryazan region also fell victim to Ukrainian drone attacks that killed three people, Moscow said.

On Monday, Russian officials said a Ukrainian drone struck an energy facility in the southwestern region of Bryansk, neighboring Ukraine.

Bryansk regional governor Alexander Bogomaz said on Telegram that the strike had knocked out a village’s electricity.


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