Dozens of Russian soldiers were killed when Ukrainian missiles hit a building in Ukraine’s occupied Donetsk region over the weekend, one of the deadliest days for the Russian military since the war began more than a decade ago.
“The Kyiv regime struck and fired six shells from a US-made HIMARS multiple rocket launcher at a Russian unit near Makeyevka,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.
The ministry said two missiles were shot down, but four hit the building and the surrounding area. The ministry said 63 military personnel were killed in the attack, though details remain vague. Dmitry Azarov, governor of Russia’s Samara region, said an unspecified number of residents were among the dead and wounded.
The Ukrainian authorities did not claim responsibility for the accident, but estimated the death toll at about 400, blaming it sarcastically on “negligence in dealing with heating appliances, neglect of security measures, and smoking in an unspecified place.”
Igor Strelkov, a Russian military blogger and former defense minister of the separatist region, said on cable The building was almost completely destroyed after detonating ammunition stored in the same building.
“All the military equipment that stood beside the building was also destroyed without the slightest sign of camouflage,” he wrote. “Many people are listed missing under the rubble.”
Strelkov also noted that Russian officers “prefer to stay away from reliable troop positions – out of range of enemy missiles.”
Daniil Bezunov, an official in the Russian-appointed department in Donetsk, has called for the officers who ordered a large number of troops to be stationed at the facility to be punished.
Kyiv residents usher in the New Year amid attacks:Updates: Ukraine will not forgive: Zelensky says
Russian officials have claimed to have shot down a Ukrainian drone that was approaching the Russian city of Voronezh, roughly 400 miles from the Ukrainian border. The provincial government said in a statement that there were no reports of damage or injuries.
The governor of the Bryansk region, Alexander Bogomaz, said Monday that a Ukrainian drone had struck an energy facility in Russia’s Bryansk region along the Ukrainian border. He said that a village was left without electricity.
EU leader pledges to support Ukraine until winter
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen spoke by phone Monday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and pledged to start disbursing $18 billion in monthly aid soon. She added that the EU would continue to support Ukraine during the winter season with generators, flashlights, shelters, school buses and other necessities.
“I conveyed my sincere support and best wishes for 2023 to the Ukrainian people,” she said in a social media post. “The European Union stands by you, as long as it takes. We support your heroic struggle. The struggle for freedom and against brutal aggression.”
Russia deployed several explosive drones in another nighttime assault on Ukraine, officials said Monday, as the Kremlin signaled no complacency in its strategy of using bombing to target the country’s energy infrastructure and weaken Ukrainian resistance to its invasion.
The barrage was the latest in a series of relentless attacks towards the end of the year, including one that killed three civilians on New Year’s Eve.
On Monday, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said 40 drones “flew to Kyiv” overnight. All of them, according to the Air Defense Forces, were destroyed.
Contributing: The Associated Press