Significant number of Russian soldiers killed in Ukrainian missile attack

‘Significant’ number of Russian soldiers killed in Ukrainian missile attack on Makiivka

Updates with Department of Defense statement.

A total of 63 Russian soldiers were killed in a Ukrainian attack on a vocational school in Russian-held eastern Ukraine in the early hours of the New Year, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Monday.

“As a result of the impact of four missiles with high-explosive warheads on a temporary location center, 63 Russian soldiers were killed,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement on Telegram.

Official Russian confirmation of the deadly strike came after details of the incident were widely publicized by Russian pro-war advocates.

“There were a significant number of dead and wounded,” Arkhangel Spetsnaz said in a post on messaging app Telegram, accompanied by a photo of ruins still smoking.

“They sorted the rubble last night.”

Russian officials have traditionally kept a low profile when it comes to battlefield casualties, rarely admitting significant casualties.

The Moscow-installed administration of Ukraine’s Donetsk region said Sunday that at least 25 rockets were fired by Ukrainian forces on New Year’s Eve as fighting intensified in the country over a period that marks a key holiday for both sides.

Russia fired multiple waves of missiles and drones at Ukrainian cities over the weekend, killing at least four people and injuring many more.

Most of those killed in the Makiivka coal-mining center were reportedly Russians drafted under the country’s “partial” mobilization campaign announced in September.

Russian military blogger Igor Girkin, a former intelligence officer who criticizes Russian military commanders, said on Telegram that the death toll could be even higher, possibly several hundred men.

The vocational college was “almost completely destroyed by an ammunition depot in the same building being blown up. Almost all military equipment that was parked next to the building without camouflage was also destroyed,” Girkin said.

Similar posts about significant casualties in Makiivka appeared on other Telegram channels, including those from officials and pro-Kremlin journalists.

“One of the problems with relying on mobilized soldiers is that they are more difficult to disperse because they lack small unit leadership and will fare worse in the cold than trained soldiers,” the military expert tweeted Rob Lee.

“But putting them next to an ammo dump is just a failure of leadership.”

Russia’s Defense Ministry said Ukraine used US-supplied HIMARS missiles in the attack.

Ukraine identified the vocational school as a target because a large number of soldiers inside were using mobile phones, according to an unidentified Russian-appointed official quoted as saying by state news agency TASS on Monday.

Ukrainian forces said on Sunday the death toll in the attack is around 400.