Ukraine Reports Heavy Russian Casualties in Recent Strike, Moscow Confirms 63 Deaths

Ukraine soldiers trying to attack Russians (Twitter)

A large number of Russian soldiers seem to have been killed in a likely Ukrainian attack in eastern Ukraine, which is under Russian control, based on information from the Ukrainian military, pro-Russian bloggers, and former officials.

The strike occurred shortly after midnight on New Year’s Day at a vocational school in Makiivka, in the Donetsk region. The facility was reportedly being used to accommodate Russian conscripts, according to both Ukrainian and pro-Russian accounts.

Attacks on civilians (Twitter)

This incident has sparked sharp criticism of Moscow’s military strategy from pro-Russian bloggers. They argued that the troops were inadequately protected and were stationed near a large ammunition cache, which is said to have detonated when Ukrainian HIMARS rockets hit the building.

On Monday, the Ukrainian military announced that they are still clarifying the number of Russian servicemen killed in Makiivka, after initially estimating around 400 fatalities and 300 injuries. They did not explicitly confirm their role in the strike. CNN has not independently verified these figures or the specifics of the weaponry used.

Several pro-Russian bloggers have suggested that the casualty numbers could indeed be in the hundreds.

The Russian defense ministry acknowledged the attack on Monday, stating that 63 Russian servicemen had died. This would mark one of the deadliest single events for Moscow’s forces during the conflict.

Russian Senator Grigory Karasin, as reported by state news agency TASS, insisted that those responsible for the servicemen’s deaths must be held accountable, emphasizing that the incident should not be forgotten.

Videos reportedly from the scene of the strike circulated widely on Telegram, including on an official Ukrainian military channel. The footage shows a smoking pile of rubble, with almost no part of the building left standing.

The Strategic Communications Directorate of Ukraine’s Armed Forces mocked the situation on Telegram, sending “greetings and congratulations” to the separatists and conscripts who were “crammed into the vocational school building in occupied Makiivka.” They claimed, “Santa packed around 400 corpses of [Russian soldiers] in bags.”

The Russian defense ministry confirmed that the Ukrainian attack utilized US-made HIMARS rockets.

Daniil Bezsonov, a former official with the Russia-backed Donetsk administration, criticized the high command on Telegram for not understanding the capabilities of such weapons and called for those responsible for the decision to use the facility to be reprimanded.

Igor Girkin, a Russian propagandist, claimed that secondary ammunition explosions had almost entirely destroyed the building. He also criticized the lack of camouflage and the proximity of military equipment to the structure.

Girkin, who has long criticized Russian generals for directing the war effort from afar and ignoring warnings about clustering equipment and personnel within HIMARS range, was previously the defense minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. He was also found guilty by a Dutch court of mass murder for his role in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014.

Pro-Russian blogger Sergey Markov blamed “a great deal of sloppiness” on the part of the Russian command, while another blogger, Boris Rozhin (known as Colonelcassad), highlighted ongoing incompetence and the failure to learn from past mistakes, leading to unnecessary losses.

Donetsk has been under pro-Russian separatist control since 2014 and is one of four Ukrainian regions Moscow attempted to annex in October, in violation of international law.

This news follows a claim by the Ukrainian military that over 700 Russian soldiers were killed on Saturday, though they did not specify the location. Russian forces have faced heavy losses near Bakhmut, Donetsk, as they continue their offensive. Over the weekend, air raid sirens sounded across Ukraine as Russian missile strikes hit multiple regions, killing at least six people in Donetsk, Kharkiv, and Chernihiv, with another person injured early Monday.