The Russian Defense Ministry has confirmed dozens of its troops were killed after midnight Sunday in one of the deadliest strikes carried out by Ukrainian forces, using a US-supplied precision rocket launcher produced by Lockheed Martin.
Russia claimed Monday that 63 were killed in the attack that targeted a vocational school housing Russian recruits in Makivka, but Ukraine announced there were 400 dead.
It was impossible for news media to verify either report.
Russia’s defense ministry said ‘significant numbers’ of Russian forces were killed in the conflagration caused when four HIMAR artillery warheads struck the temporary barracks, located near the Russian-occupied regional capital of Donetsk.
Outraged pro-Russian military bloggers claimed the soldiers lacked protection and were being quartered next to a large cache of ammunition, which allegedly exploded when the Ukrainian HIMARS rockets hit the school.
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“As a result of the night shelling of the capital, energy infrastructure facilities were damaged. There are emergency power outages in the city,” Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said Sunday night in a Telegram post.
Energy infrastructure was damaged in the attack, the mayor said.
The Ukrainian forces fired six rockets from a HIMARS launch system, with just two shot down, according to the defense ministry statement.
The HIMARS (high mobility artillery rocket system) is a light multiple precision rocket launcher developed for the US Army in the late 1990s. It has an operational range of 300 miles (480 kilometers) and can fire six guided missiles in rapid succession.
“As a result of ‘careless handling of heating devices,’ neglecting security measures and smoking in an unspecified place, Santa packed about 400 corpses of Russian servicemen in bags,” the Ukraine armed forces wrote in a terse message on Telegram. “About 300 more have wounds of varying degrees of severity.”
It’s not clear when the strike took place.