63 The soldier’s death angered the Russians. Last Minute EUROPE, CURRENT, Netherlands, Russia, headlines and events
As anger grew over the killing of dozens of Russian soldiers in one of the most deadly attacks in the Ukraine conflict, Russian nationalists and some lawmakers have demanded the punishment of commanders they accused of ignoring the dangers.
The Russian Defense Ministry, in a rare statement, recorded that the base where its soldiers are stationed, in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, was targeted by Ukrainian forces and that 63 Russian soldiers were killed in a rocket attack.
The stationing of soldiers next to an ammunition depot in the area, which the Russian Defense Ministry said was hit by four missiles fired from US-made HIMARS launchers, has been criticized.
Television footage shows the gigantic building falling to rubble as cranes and bulldozers slam into the concrete rubble several meters deep.
Ukrainian and some Russian nationalist bloggers put the death toll in Makiivka in the hundreds, though pro-Russian officials say those estimates are exaggerated.
RIA Novosti reported that rallies in memory of the victims were held in several Russian cities, including Samara, where some came from. The mourners laid flowers in the center of Samara.
Calling for unity, Ekaterina Kolotovkina, a representative of the women’s council in the army, said: “I did not sleep for three days, Samara did not sleep. We are in constant communication with the wives of our soldiers. and scary. But we are not divided. Grief unites us. We will not forgive and victory will definitely be ours.”
The Makiivka attack came as Russia launched nighttime drone strikes on Kyiv and other cities in Ukraine.
“The attacks are designed to consume our people, our air defenses, our energy,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video message last night.
Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ignat told Ukraina TV channel that 84 drones have been shot down in two Russian attacks since New Year’s Eve.
Ikhnat said that the Armed Forces of Ukraine organized mobile groups to capture them using jeeps and other equipment equipped with anti-aircraft machine guns and searchlights.
Zelenskiy, whose power relies heavily on Western-supplied arms and other equipment, had separate phone calls today with the prime ministers of the Netherlands and Britain.
“We have already decided to step up our efforts to get even closer to victory this year,” Seelensky said of his meeting with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on messaging app Telegram.
Foreign mercenaries also died
The Russian Defense Ministry did not mention Makiivka in its daily bulletin published today, but said that the Russian Aerospace Forces carried out numerous strikes, including in Donetsk, which killed more than 130 foreign mercenaries.
The report notes that as a result of missile and air strikes on a stack of equipment near the Druzhkovka railway station in Donetsk, 120 Ukrainian servicemen were killed, two HIMARS launchers and more than 800 missiles were destroyed.
Having invaded Ukraine on February 24, Russia has increasingly resorted to massive airstrikes on Ukrainian cities after defeats on the battlefield in the second half of 2022. Russia denies that it has targeted civilians.
The Ukrainian authorities said that yesterday Russia launched strikes in Ukrainian-controlled areas of the Donetsk region, struck the city of Kramatorsk and the village of Yakovlovka, and also destroyed an ice rink in Druzhkovka.
Ukrainian forces are making steady progress towards Russian-controlled Svatovo and Kremennaya, the governor of Ukraine’s Luhansk region, which, along with neighboring Donetsk, forms the Donbass industrial zone claimed by Moscow, said today.
The Ukrainian General Staff said that about 500 Russian soldiers were killed or wounded in an attack on a Russian-controlled area in southern Kherson on December 31.
Reuters was unable to independently verify these reports.
Reuters footage shows a group of Ukrainian volunteers known as the “Black Tulip” exhuming the bodies of fallen soldiers near the front line in the Donetsk region.
“Every time you dig up a teenager, you experience his nightmare and the horror of that last moment when he realizes that this is the end,” said 37-year-old volunteer Alexei Yukov.
Serhiy Cherevaty, a spokesman for the Eastern Group of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, told Ukrainian television that there were 259 shellings and 29 clashes in the Ukrainian-controlled city of Bakmouth, which is now mostly in ruins.
“The Armed Forces of Ukraine are doing everything to make Russian attacks fail,” Cherevaty added.
Anger at military officials grows
Russian military bloggers denounced the decision to store ammunition in a building used as a barracks in Makiivka, despite the fact that Russian commanders knew that Ukrainian missiles were within range.
Igor Girkin, a former pro-Russian separatist commander in eastern Ukraine and now one of Russia’s top military nationalist bloggers, said hundreds of people were killed or injured in the December 31 attack. Girkin said the military equipment stored in the area was not camouflaged.
“What happened in Makiivka is terrible,” wrote Russian military blogger Archangel Spetsnaz Z, who has more than 700,000 followers on Telegram. “Who came up with the idea to put so many personnel in the building that even an idiot understands that even if they hit him with cannons, there will be many wounded or dead? Commanders don’t care,” he added.
Ukraine has almost never publicly claimed responsibility for attacks on Russian-controlled territory. Zelensky did not mention the terrorist attack in Makiivka in his speech yesterday.
Anger in Russia has also spread to legislators.
Member of the Russian Senate and former Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin not only demanded revenge on Ukraine and its supporters in NATO, but also demanded “tough internal scrutiny.”
The former head of the upper house of the Russian parliament, Sergei Mironov, also demanded criminal liability for officials who allowed the accumulation of military personnel in an unguarded building, and all high-ranking officials who did not provide the necessary level of security.
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