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War in Ukraine, Day 311 | Russia reports 63 soldiers killed in east in Kyiv-orchestrated strike

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(Kyiv) Russia acknowledged Monday the death of 63 of its soldiers in Ukraine, killed in a Ukrainian strike in separatist territory in the east of the country, the heaviest losses in a single attack admitted by Moscow since the beginning of the invasion.

The army has only on very rare occasions given an assessment of its offensive or communicated on its losses. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, 63 soldiers were killed in the explosion of “four missiles” fired by HIMARS systems, a weapon supplied by the United States to Ukrainian forces.

According to Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov, who did not specify the date of the strike, these missiles hit “a temporary deployment center” of the Russian army in Makiivka, a city under Russian occupation. located east of the separatist city of Donetsk.

The ministry also claimed to have shot down two of the six missiles fired at this target at Makiivka.

The Ukrainian general staff admitted to having carried out this strike, carried out according to him before the New Year on December 31, destroying or damaging up to 10 vehicles. “Losses in terms of personnel for the occupants are being specified,” he said.


FREELANCE PHOTO, VIA REUTERS ARCHIVES

A Ukrainian soldier walks down a deserted street in Torske, Donetsk region.

On Sunday, Russian and Ukrainian media had started reporting on the strike, saying it had taken place on the night of Saturday to Sunday, at the time of the transition to the new year, and that a building where reservists were recently mobilized in Russia had been affected.

The announcement of these heavy losses immediately provoked criticism of the Russian military command, accused in particular by the former separatist leader Igor Strelkov, very familiar with the situation on the ground, of having stored ammunition in this unprotected building. .

The governor of the Russian region of Samara, Dmitri Azarov, announced to him the opening of a telephone line for the relatives of the soldiers killed, among whom are his constituents.

New Year’s Strikes

The announcement of this strike comes after a New Year marked by Russian bombardments on Kyiv and other cities on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, which left five people dead and around 50 injured.

At dawn on Monday, the strikes caused power cuts in Kyiv.

“The Russians launched several waves of Iranian-made Shahed drones,” said Oleksiy Kouleba, the head of the Kyiv region’s military administration, adding that the strikes were directed against “critical infrastructure”.

Ukrainian air defense claimed to have shot down 41 drones and one Russian missile.

The operator DTEK announced that the attack had inflicted “damage” on infrastructure linked to Kyiv’s electricity supply and that it had to impose emergency cuts as a result.

The national company Ukrenergo confirmed the power outages, while ensuring that the situation was “totally under control”.

After a series of military setbacks on the ground and Ukrainian attacks targeting Russian territory and annexed Crimea, Moscow opted from October for a tactic of bombing Ukraine’s infrastructure, regularly causing cuts in electricity and water.

Russian authorities reported on Monday a Ukrainian drone attack on an electrical installation in the Bryansk region, bordering Ukraine, and claimed to have shot down a Ukrainian reconnaissance drone heading this time towards the great city ​​of Voronezh.

Moscow had assured that its New Year strikes had targeted drone manufacturing facilities.

” Losing ”

The Russians “are losing. Drones, missiles and everything else won’t help them. Because we are together, ”reacted President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday evening.

Pro-Russian separatist authorities in eastern Ukraine reported Ukrainian shelling before and after the New Year that left at least one dead and 15 injured.

The Russian army also declared on Sunday that it was continuing its offensive in the Donetsk region, in eastern Ukraine, where most of the fighting is currently concentrated.

In this regard, the General Staff of the Ukrainian forces underlined once again on Monday that “the enemy […] continued to attempt attacks in the Bakhmout sector”, the hottest point of the front, where both sides suffered heavy losses.

The soldiers engaged in this battle are subjected to an “incredible fatigue” moral and physical. And in this endless war of attrition, some end up seeing themselves “like meat, just fit to be sent to death”, explained Mark Kouptchenenko, a young Ukrainian military chaplain who goes to the front every day.

There are no or very few rotations, “they are constantly in combat”, under enormous pressure, subject to orders that sometimes they no longer understand, he further said.



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