Ukrainian New Year strike on Russian base kills hundreds

Minutes into the New Year, the Ukrainians launched a huge barrage of rockets at a Russian military base in the Donetsk region, likely killing hundreds of soldiers.

Although the figures remain disputed, estimates by Russian bloggers and journalists range between 200 and 600 victims, the the wall street journal reports. Igor Girkin, a former soldier who led Russian separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, criticized the Russian government for placing military equipment near the barracks. “The number of dead and injured is in the hundreds,” Girkin said.

Russian state media sought to allay concerns about the attack by issuing a statement saying only 63 soldiers died there.

Ukrainian leaders have not yet announced the death toll, but military sources say 400 Russian soldiers were killed and 300 others injured in the barrage.

The strike follows competing year-end messages from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin to their respective nations. As Zelensky sought to bolster Ukraine’s resolve in the face of Russian attacks on civilian areas, Putin echoed his commitment to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“On February 24, millions of us made a choice. . . . Not a white flag, but a blue and yellow flag. No escape, but encounter. Meet the enemy. Resist and fight,” Zelensky said during his video speech, posted just before midnight on New Years Eve.

The day before, Putin had claimed that “it was a year of truly crucial and fateful events”, during a visit to a military district in southern Russia. “They have become the border that lays the foundations for our common future, for our true independence. This is what we are fighting for today, to protect our people in our own historical territories, in the new regions of the Russian Federation,” Putin said.

The Ukrainian strike relied on US-supplied HIMARS rocket systems designed by Lockheed Martin.

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