Russia now says 89 killed in Ukraine attack, blames mobile phones | Russia-Ukraine war News

The Russian Defense Ministry raises the death toll to 89 a recent Ukrainian missile attack on a school containing soldiers in Makiivkain the Russian-occupied Donetsk region and blamed the attack on their forces’ illegal use of mobile phones.

While Ukraine claimed that about 400 Russian soldiers were killed in the missile attack in the first minutes of New Year’s Day on Sunday, Moscow had until Wednesday insisted that 63 Russian soldiers had been killed. network.

Russia’s initial admission of 63 deaths is highly unusual as it marks the most significant loss of life from a single raid confirmed by Moscow. since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

“The number of our comrades killed has reached 89,” Lieutenant General Sergey Sevryukov said in a video statement released by the Russian Defense Ministry early Wednesday. He said the death toll had increased after other bodies were found under the rubble in the town of Makiivka.

Sevryukov added that the use of mobile phones by Russian soldiers was the cause of the attack.

“It is clear that the main reason for what has happened is the massive switching on and use by employees – contrary to the ban – of mobile phones in enemy weapons areas,” he said. .

“This element allows the enemy to track and determine the coordinates of the position of the soldiers to attack the missile.”

The devastating attack on a vocational school that has been converted into a military zone caused anger among Russian nationalists and some legislators who again questioned the military strategy of Moscow commanders in Ukraine.

In a post on the messaging app Telegram, Igor Girkin, a former officer of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) who was credited with starting the first war in 2014 in the Donbas region, said that ammunition and Military equipment was stored in shelter buildings. Russian soldiers, contributing to the power of the explosion.

Girkin blamed Russia’s “untrainable” generals for the losses.

Anger on social media is aimed at Russia’s military commanders rather than President Vladimir Putin.

The Institute for the Study of War said pro-Russian military bloggers considered the cell phone explanation “a lie” and accused the Russian command of “criminal negligence” for failing to disperse its forces. them into smaller groups far from the front lines. .

Such profound military failures will further complicate Putin’s efforts to appease Russia’s pro-war community and maintain the dominant narrative in the information space. domestic”.

The Russian Defense Ministry said that four rockets from the US-made HIMARS launcher hit the building, adding that “from the explosion of the warhead of the HIMARS missile, the ceiling of the building collapsed.”

“Currently, a commission is working to investigate the circumstances of what happened,” Sevryukov said, adding that measures are being taken to ensure such incidents do not happen again. in the future and those responsible for security flaws will be punished.

The defense ministry revised the death toll released as mourners gathered in several cities in the Volga region of Samara – home to some of the servicemen killed in the attack – to mourn those who lost their lives. hidden.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made no mention of the attack in a video address Tuesday in which he said Russia prepares to launch a major offensive to improve its luck.

“We have no doubt that the current owners of Russia will throw everything they have left and all they can muster to try to turn the tide of the war and at least is delaying their failure,” Zelenskyy said in the video address.

“We have to break this Russian scenario. We are preparing for this. Terrorists must lose. Any attempt at their new attack must fail,” he continued.

In Russia, a little-known patriotic group supporting the widows of Russian servicemen is calling on Putin to order a large-scale mobilization of millions of Russian men to ensure victory in Ukraine.

Putin plans to speak with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agency Interfax – the latest in a series of conversations the two have had. have since the beginning of the war.

Turkey acted as a mediator with the United Nations last year to establish an agreement to allow grain exports from Ukrainian ports but the chances of serious peace talks seem remote, especially as fighting continues to raging.


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