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War in Ukraine, Day 312 | Moscow faces internal criticism after 63 soldiers killed

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(Kyiv) Russia faces internal criticism after the death of 63 soldiers in Ukraine, killed in a Ukrainian strike, the heaviest loss in a single attack admitted by Moscow since the beginning of the invasion.

The Ukrainian general staff confirmed on Monday evening that it had carried out this strike on Makiivka, a city under Russian occupation located east of the separatist city of Donetsk, on New Year’s Eve.

In a rare announcement that followed criticism from Russian war correspondents, the Defense Ministry in Moscow said 63 Russian servicemen were killed in the explosion of “four missiles” at Makiivka.

The Russian army has only on very rare occasions given an assessment of its offensive or communicated on its losses.

According to the Ministry of Defense, the missiles were fired by HIMARS systems, a weapon supplied by the United States to Ukrainian forces and which struck “a temporary deployment center” of the Russian army in Makiivka.

“Up to 10 units of enemy military equipment of various types were destroyed and damaged,” the General Staff said.

Earlier in the day, the strategic communications department of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said that nearly 400 Russian soldiers had been killed in Makiivka.

The general staff, which did not confirm this figure, declared that a balance sheet of the “losses” of human beings was being established.

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. .

“Dangerous and criminal”

Increasingly influential Russian war reporters say hundreds killed in attack on vocational school in Makivka, accuse top military commanders of failing to learn lessons of their past mistakes.

“Ten months after the start of the war, it is dangerous and criminal to regard the enemy as a fool who sees nothing,” said Andrey Medvedev, Deputy Speaker of the Moscow City Legislative Assembly.

The governor of the Russian region of Samara, Dmitry Azarov, announced the opening of a telephone line for relatives of killed soldiers.

On social media, some have accused Russian authorities of downplaying the death toll.

“My God, who is going to believe the number 63? The building was completely destroyed,” wrote a Russian, Nina Vernykh, on the main Russian social network VKontakte.


PHOTO ARDEN ARKMAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Russians gather in memory of the 63 dead soldiers.

On this social network, Russians were invited to collect clothes, medicines and materials for survivors.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that his army had shot down more than 80 drones since the beginning of 2023.

“In the near future, this number may increase,” he said.

The announcement of this strike comes after a New Year marked by Russian bombardments on Kyiv and other cities, which left five dead and dozens injured.

On Monday, Kyiv again came under fire from Iranian-made drones, but Ukrainian forces said the majority were shot down.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko reported an explosion in the northeast of the city.

On Monday evening, the governor of the Kharkiv region, Oleg Synegoubov claimed that the second largest city in Ukraine and its region were again the target of Russian missiles.

Summit in Kyiv

“Critical infrastructure has been targeted,” he wrote.

Ukrainian Chief of Staff Valery Zaluzhny said the army had so far liberated “40% of the territories occupied after February 24”.

Four loud explosions were heard Monday evening by AFP journalists in the Kramatorsk region, the de facto administrative capital of the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine.

Regional authorities tweeted about “two missiles” in Druzhkivka and Yakovlivka, near Kramatorsk, and reported two injuries.

The Russian Defense Ministry said it used high-precision weapons to carry out strikes near Kramatorsk and in the Kharkiv region, claiming to have killed “more than 70 foreign mercenaries”.

After a series of military setbacks on the ground and Ukrainian attacks targeting Russian territory and annexed Crimea, Moscow opted from October to bombard infrastructure in Ukraine, regularly causing power cuts, heating and water.

According to the UN human rights official, they are causing “tremendous hardship” for Ukrainians.

Ukraine and the European Union will hold a summit in Kyiv on February 3 to discuss European financial and military support, President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office said in a statement on Monday.

Mr. Zelensky discussed the details of this high-level meeting during a telephone conversation with the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.

According to the press release, they discussed the delivery of “appropriate” weapons and the launch of the new financial aid program for Ukraine of 18 billion euros adopted in December by the European Parliament.

Kyiv insisted that a first contribution be paid to his country in January.



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