Ukraine claims hundreds of Russian troops killed in strike; Moscow says 63 died
CNN — An apparent Ukrainian strike in Russian-occupied eastern Ukraine appears to have killed a large number of Russian troops, according to the Ukrainian military,
pro-Russian military bloggers and former officials. The strike took place just after midnight on Sunday, New Year’s Day, on a vocational school housing Russian conscripts in
Makiivka, in the Donetsk region, according to both Ukrainian and pro-Russian accounts. The attack has led to vocal criticism of Moscow’s military from pro-Russian military
bloggers, who claimed that the troops lacked protection and were reportedly being quartered next to a large cache of ammunition, which is said to have exploded when Ukrainian
HIMARS rockets hit the school. The Ukrainian military said later on Monday that the number of Russian servicemen killed in Makiivka is “being clarified” after claiming earlier
that around 400 Russian soldiers were killed and a further 300 were wounded. It has not directly acknowledged a role in the strike. CNN cannot independently confirm those numbers
or the weapons used in the attack. Some pro-Russian military bloggers have also estimated that the number of dead and wounded could run in the hundreds. The Russian defense
ministry on Monday acknowledged the attack and claimed that 63 Russian servicemen died, which would make it one of the deadliest single episodes of the war for Moscow’s forces.
Russian senator Grigory Karasin said that those responsible for the killing of Russian servicemen in Makiivka must be found, Russian state news agency TASS reported Monday.
Karasin, who is chairman of the International Affairs Committee of the Federation Council, said the deaths should not be forgotten. Video reportedly from the scene of the attack
circulated widely on Telegram, including on an official Ukrainian military channel. It shows a pile of smoking rubble, in which almost no part of the building appears to be
standing. “Greetings and congratulations” to the separatists and conscripts who “were brought to the occupied Makiivka and crammed into the building of vocational school,”
the Strategic Communications Directorate of the Chief Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said on Telegram. “Santa packed around 400 corpses of [Russian soldiers]
in bags.” The Russian defense ministry said the Ukrainian attack used US-made HIMARS rockets. Daniil Bezsonov, a former official in the Russia-backed Donetsk administration, said
on Telegram that “apparently, the high command is still unaware of the capabilities of this weapon.” “I hope that those responsible for the decision to use this facility will