Russia said Monday that 63 of its troops were killed on New Year’s Eve in Ukrainian missile strikes on their quarters in the town of Makiivka in the Russian-controlled part of the Ukraine’s Donetsk region.
The unusual casualty announcement by Russia’s Defense Ministry came as Russia continued its barrage of air attacks on the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, although Mayor Vitali Klitschko said all 40 drones targeting the city and its environs had been shot down.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said Ukraine hit the Makiivka site with four of the six rockets fired from the precision High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) that the United States has dispatched to Ukraine’s forces. Russia said it shot down two of the incoming missiles.
The Ukrainian military did not directly confirm the strike but tacitly acknowledged it and claimed it was more deadly than Russia reported.
The Strategic Communications Directorate of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said Sunday that about 400 Russian soldiers were killed in a vocational school building in Makiivka and about 300 more were injured. The Russian statement said the strike occurred “in the area of Makiivka” and didn’t mention the vocational school.
Daniil Bezsonov, a senior Russian-installed official in the Moscow-controlled parts of the Donetsk region, said the building housing the Russian troops had suffered a “massive blow.”
“There were dead and wounded, the exact number is still unknown,” Bezsonov said on the Telegram messaging app. “The building itself was badly damaged.”
Pro-Russian nationalist bloggers seethed at the attack and blamed military officials.
“What happened in Makiivka is horrible,” wrote Archangel Spetsnaz Z, a Russian military blogger with more than 700,000 followers on Telegram.
“Who came up with the idea to place personnel in large numbers in one building, where even a fool understands that even if they hit with artillery, there will be many wounded or dead?” he said.
Ukraine’s military command in the country’s eastern region said air defense systems destroyed nine Iranian-made drones that Russia fired into the Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhzhia regions.
But five people were wounded in the Monday morning shelling of a Ukraine-controlled area of the southern Kherson region, Ukrainian Governor Yaroslav Yanushevich said on Telegram.
The Russian forces attacked the city of Beryslav, the official said, firing at a local market, likely from a tank. Three of the wounded are in serious condition and are being evacuated to Kherson, Yanushevich said.
The attacks on Kyiv were the latest in a series of airstrikes that Russia has launched as the calendar turned to 2023 and to the 11th month since Russia invaded its neighbor last February 24. Moscow’s relentless assault appeared aimed at an attempt to demoralize the Ukrainian people in the midst of the winter-time freezing temperatures.
Klitschko said the falling debris in Kyiv injured one person and knocked out some power and heating.
Kyiv said the Russian barrage of attempted airstrikes was a sign of Moscow’s desperation as Ukraine’s ability to defend its air space had improved.
Presidential chief of staff Andriy Yermak said on Telegram, “Now they are looking for routes and attempts to hit us somehow, but their terror tactics will not work. Our sky will turn into a shield.”
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised Ukrainians for showing gratitude to the troops and one another and said Russia’s air attacks would prove useless.
“Drones, missiles, everything else will not help them,” he said of the Russians, “because we stand united. They are united only by fear.”