January 2 2022 Russia Ukraine News CNN

January 2, 2022 Russia-Ukraine News

A spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry speaks about the shelling of Makiivka in Moscow, Russia on January 2.A spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry speaks about the shelling of Makiivka January 2 in Moscow, Russia. (Russian Ministry of Defense/Portal)

According to the Ukrainian military, pro-Russian military bloggers and former officials, a Ukrainian attack in Russian-held eastern Ukraine appears to have killed large numbers of Russian troops stationed next to an ammunition dump.

According to both Ukrainian and pro-Russian reports, the strike took place just after midnight on Sunday, New Year’s Day, at a vocational school housing Russian conscripts in Makiivka, Donetsk region.

The attack has prompted vocal criticism of the Russian military from pro-Russian military bloggers, who have claimed that the troops have no protection and are reportedly being barricaded next to a large ammunition dump that is said to have exploded when Ukrainian HIMARS missiles hit the school.

The Ukrainian military claimed around 400 Russian soldiers were killed and 300 wounded, without directly admitting a role. CNN cannot independently confirm these numbers or the weapons used in the strike. Some pro-Russian military bloggers have also estimated that the number of dead and wounded could be in the hundreds.

The Russian Defense Ministry on Monday acknowledged the attack, claiming that “63 Russian soldiers” died.

A video from the site of the attack is reportedly being shared on Telegram, including on an official Ukrainian military channel. It shows a smoking heap of rubble in which almost no part of the building appears to be standing.

“Greetings and congratulations” to the separatists and conscripts who were “taken to occupied Makiivka and crammed into the building of the vocational school,” the Strategic Communications Directorate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said on Telegram. ‚ÄúSanta Claus grabbed around 400 bodies [Russian soldiers] in bags.”

The Russian Defense Ministry said the Ukrainian attack used HIMARS missiles.

Daniil Bezsonov, a former official in the Russian-backed Donetsk government, told Telegram that “the high command still seems to have no idea about the capabilities of this weapon.”

A Russian propagandist blogging about the war effort on Telegram, Igor Girkin, claimed that the building was almost completely destroyed by the secondary detonation of ammunition dumps.

Girkin has long condemned Russian generals whom he claims are directing the war effort far from the front lines. Girkin was previously defense minister of the self-proclaimed, Russian-backed Donetsk People’s Republic and was found guilty by a Dutch court of mass murder for his involvement in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014.

Sergey Markov, another pro-Russian military blogger, said there was “a lot of negligence” on the part of the Russian command.

Boris Rozhin, who also blogs about the war effort under the nickname Colonelcassad, said that “incompetence and an inability to grasp the experiences of the war remain a serious problem”.