Tables have once again turned on Moscow in the so-called special operations in Ukraine as 63 Russian soldiers were killed. Ukrainian rockets -- the US-supplied Himars missiles -- struck a temporary deployment facility in the Russian-controlled city of Makiivka.
Russia's defence ministry confirmed that 63 soldiers died but Ukraine's military command says up to 400 Russian soldiers were killed in the city. "Up to 10 units of enemy military equipment of various types were destroyed and damaged in the area of concentration in the settlement of Makiivka," Ukraine's military general staff said in a statement.
The latest action by Ukraine comes after Russia's weekend assault waves of missiles and drones which killed at least four people and wounded others.
Death Toll Could be Higher
Russian officials have traditionally been tight-lipped about their casualties. But this time around the confirmation of the deadly strike is being highly publicized. Igor Girkin, a former intelligence officer critical of Russian military commanders, believes the death toll could be even higher. It could be as much as several hundred men. The soldiers that have been killed in the Ukrainian rocket strike were recently deployed.
Daniil Bezsonov, a senior Moscow proxy official in Russian-occupied Donetsk, said the Ukrainian missile had struck a vocational school in Makiivka that housed soldiers two minutes after midnight on New Year's Day. "A massive blow was dealt to the vocational school from American MLRS Himars. There were dead and wounded; the exact number is still unknown."
Dmitry Azarov, the Governor of Russia's Samara region, said an unspecified number of residents of the region were among those killed and wounded by the strike on the town of Makiivka. Russian military bloggers believe ammunition stored close to the facility had exploded in the attack and contributed to the high number of casualties. "The vocational college was destroyed almost entirely as a result of the detonation of an ammunition dump in the same building. Almost all the military equipment, parked next to the building without any camouflage was also destroyed," Girkin said.
Russian Leadership Failure
Fingers are being pointed at Russian military's senior officials and leadership. Criticism is over the state of Russia's military and the decision to use civilian infrastructure to house soldiers.
Archangel Spetznaz Z, a Russian military blogger, described the rocket strike as horrible. "Who came up with the idea to place personnel in large numbers in one building, where even a fool understands that even if they hit with artillery, there will be many wounded or dead," he said. "Commanders couldn't care less about ammunition stored in disarray on the battlefield. Each mistake has a name."
Andrew Medvedev, deputy chairman of Moscow's city parliament, believes housing personnel in buildings instead of housing them in shelters directly aids the enemy. "From the situation in Makiivka it is necessary to draw the toughest conclusions. Vladlen Tatarsky, a military blogger, called for a tribunal for the Russian military leadership. He said Moscow's top officers are "untrained idiots."