- New Year strike kills 89 Russian troops – Ministry of Defense
- Bahmut on the Eastern Front is still a scene of fierce battles
- Kyiv reiterates belief that Russia will launch mass mobilization
- This article contains content originating in Russia, where reporting of Russian military operations in Ukraine is restricted by law
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s defense ministry said on Thursday that 89 military personnel were killed in a Ukrainian missile attack, raising the reported death toll from 63, blaming soldiers’ cell phone use.
The New Year’s Eve strike, the worst single incident Moscow has acknowledged since the beginning of the war, has angered pro-war Russian commentators who have become increasingly vocal about what they see as a half-baked and incompetent campaign in Ukraine. ing.
The criticism was directed at the military commander, not Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has not publicly commented on the attack.
The Russian Defense Ministry said four Ukrainian rockets hit a temporary Russian barracks at a vocational school in Makyovka, a sister city of Donetsk, the Russian-occupied regional capital in eastern Ukraine.
An investigation was launched, but Russia’s Foreign Ministry said the main reason for the attack was the military’s extensive use of mobile phones, which is illegal.
“This factor allowed the enemy to track and determine the coordinates of the soldiers’ positions for the missile strike,” said a statement issued shortly after 1 a.m. Wednesday (2200 GMT Tuesday). .
Russia has banned open criticism through strict media rules and effectively blocked all direct opponents of the war. , many of which have hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.
War correspondent Semyon Pegov, who was awarded the Order of Courage by Putin, told Telegram that using a mobile phone to denounce the military “looks like a blatant attempt to smear the accusation.” . There were other ways for Ukraine to discover the base, he said.
Pegov said the death toll would rise further.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who rarely comments on specific military attacks in Ukraine, did not mention the attacks in his video address Tuesday.
Ukraine initially said hundreds of Russians had been killed in Makyovka. Since then, it has avoided revealing details.
“Russia’s Big Offensive”
Zelensky said Russia is ready to launch a major offensive.
“There is no doubt that the current Russian rulers will throw out everything they have left and everyone they can muster in order to turn the tide of the war and at least delay its defeat,” Zelensky said in a video speech. said.
“We must disrupt this Russian scenario. We are prepared for it. The terrorists must lose. Their new attack attempts must fail,” he continued.
With Russia losing territory in late 2022, President Putin has ordered the first call-up of reserve troops since World War II. have said they plan to close the borders to prevent them from escaping conscription.
In the latest sign that the Kremlin may be considering such a move, a little-known group claiming to represent the widows of Russian soldiers has sent President Putin to a large mass of millions of men. I called for an order to mobilize.
On Wednesday, the Chief of the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said Russia had launched seven missile attacks, 18 airstrikes and more than 85 multiple-launch rocket system attacks in the past 24 hours on civilian infrastructure in three cities: Kramatorsk, Zaporizhia and Kherson. said he went to
“There are casualties among civilians,” it said. Russia denies targeting civilians.
The battlefield reports could not be independently verified by Reuters.
The Ukrainian chief of staff also said Russian forces remain focused on advancing in the Bakhmut area, a city in Donetsk now largely devastated after months of fighting.
Russian-installed Crimean governor-general of Sevastopol Mikhail Razbodjayev said on Wednesday in the Telegram messaging app that air defense systems shot down two drones near the Berbek military airfield.
Putin is scheduled to meet with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Interfax.
Turkey acted as a broker, along with the United Nations, to establish a deal allowing grain exports from Ukrainian ports. But full-scale peace talks seem unlikely, with Moscow demanding that Kyiv accept the annexation of seized lands, and Ukraine promising to expel Russian forces from its entire territory.
Putin launched what he called a “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24, citing threats to Russia’s security and the need to protect Russian-speaking people. Ukraine and its allies have accused Moscow of engaging in unilateral imperialist territorial acquisitions.
Reported by a Reuters bureau. Written by Michael Perry and Gareth Jones.Edited by Simon Cameron Moore and Peter Graff
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