The Ministry of Defence Russian blamed on Wednesday the unauthorized use of mobile phones by his soldiers of a deadly attack with Ukrainian missiles, and raised the death toll to 89 soldiers, which significantly increases the previous report.
Moscow had previously said that 63 Russian soldiers were killed in the attack over the weekend. The Ministry’s reaction came in the middle of the growing anger from some Russian commentatorsincreasingly critical of the campaign in Ukraine.
Most of the anger on social media was directed at military commanders and not at Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has not commented publicly on the attack, which was another setback after the massive withdrawals on the battlefield in recent months.
The Russian Defense Ministry said four Ukrainian missiles hit a temporary barracks at a vocational school in Makiivkatwin city of the regional capital of Donetsk located in eastern Ukraine.
Although an official investigation has been launched, according to the Ministry the main reason for the attack was clearly the massive unauthorized use of mobile phones by the militarygathered on New Year’s Eve.
“This factor allowed the enemy to track and determine the coordinates of the location of the soldiers to launch a missile attack.”, he said in a statement issued shortly after 1 a.m. (22 GMT Tuesday) on Wednesday.
However, Semyon Pegov, a prominent Russian war correspondent awarded the Order of Valor by Putin in late 2022, questioned the ministry’s reasoning.
In a Telegram post, Pegov said that Ukraine may have been able to locate the troops through drones and intelligence reportsnot necessarily through mobile phones.
“The story of ‘mobiles’ is not very convincingPegov said. “I rarely say this – but this is the case where I probably it would be better to remain silent, at least until the end of the investigation. As such, it looks like a blatant attempt to project blame.”
Pegov also claimed that the number of victims will increase. “Unfortunately, their number will continue to grow. Most likely, the announced data corresponds to those that were immediately identified. The list of the disappeared, unfortunately, is noticeably longer.. I cannot reveal the sources, but I consider them reliable.”
Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky, who rarely comments on specific Ukrainian military strikes, made no mention of the attack in a video speech on Tuesday in which he said Russia was ready to launch a major offensive to improve its lot.
“We have no doubt that the current masters of Russia will throw everything they have left and everyone they can muster to try to turn the tide of the war and at least delay his defeatZelensky said in a video speech.
“We have to disrupt this Russian scenario. We are preparing for it. The terrorists must lose. Any attempt at his new offensive must fail,” he continued.
The Ukrainian military has claimed that it launched an attack that led to the loss of Russian materiel and possibly personnel near Makiivka. But he has not given any further details.
Russian nationalist bloggers and some pro-Russian officials in the region the number of deaths in Makiivka is estimated at hundredsalthough some claim that those estimates are exaggerated.
Zelensky reiterated Ukrainian claims that Moscow is planning a large-scale mobilization, a step that Russian officials say is not currently being considered.
A US State Department spokesman said Washington had seen reports “that the Ukrainian military attacked a Russian military headquarters storing ammunition inside Ukrainian territory” and caused many Russian casualties. “We have also read reports that many of those soldiers were new recruits”.
The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported on Wednesday that Russia had launched seven missile attacks, 18 air strikes and more than 85 multiple launch rocket system attacks in the past 24 hours against civilian infrastructure in three cities, Kramatorsk , Zaporizhia and Kherson.
“There are victims among the civilian population,” he said. Russia denies attacking civilians.
(With information from Reuters)
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