Russia now says 89 dead in Ukraine attack and blames cell phones news of war between Russia and Ukraine

Russia’s Defense Ministry has raised to 89 the number of its military personnel killed in a recent Ukrainian missile strike on a school housing soldiers in Makevka in the Russian-occupied Donetsk region, blaming the attack on the unauthorized use of mobile phones by its forces.

While Ukraine claimed about 400 Russian soldiers were killed in the missile attack in the early minutes of New Year’s Day on Sunday, Moscow confirmed as of Wednesday that 63 Russian soldiers were killed.

Russia’s initial acknowledgment of the 63 deaths was already unusual because it represented the largest loss of life from a single strike confirmed by Moscow since it began its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

“The number of our dead comrades has risen to 89,” Lieutenant-General Sergei Severyukov said in a video statement released by the Russian Defense Ministry early on Wednesday. He added that the death toll rose after additional bodies were found under the rubble in the town of Makevka.

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

He said: “It is already clear that the main reason for what happened is the operation and extensive use – contrary to the prohibition – by personnel of mobile phones in an area of ​​influence of enemy weapons.”

“This factor allowed the enemy to track and locate the coordinates of the soldiers’ location for a missile strike.”

The devastating attack on a vocational school that has been converted into military quarters has angered Russian nationalists and some lawmakers who are once again questioning Moscow’s leaders’ military strategy in Ukraine.

In a post on messaging app Telegram, Igor Girkin, a former Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officer who was instrumental in starting the 2014 initial war in the Donbass region, said that ammunition and military equipment were stored in buildings housing Russian soldiers contributing to the force. blast.

Girkin blamed Russian generals, “unfit for training”, for the losses.

The anger on social media was directed at Russia’s military leaders rather than President Vladimir Putin.

The Institute for the Study of War said pro-Russian military bloggers dismissed the mobile phone interpretation as a “lie” and accused the Russian leadership of “criminal negligence” for failing to disperse its forces into smaller groups away from the front line.

“Such profound military failures will continue to complicate Putin’s efforts to appease Russia’s pro-war community and retain the dominant narrative in the domestic information space,” the institute said.

The Russian Defense Ministry said that four missiles from US-made HIMARS launchers hit the building, adding that “as a result of the explosion of the HIMARS warheads, the roofs of the building collapsed.”

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

The revised death toll at the Defense Ministry comes as mourners gathered in several towns in the Volga region of Samara – where some service members killed in the attack were – to mourn the dead.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made no mention of the attack in a video address on Tuesday, in which he said Russia was preparing a massive offensive to improve its fortunes.

“We have no doubt that Russia’s current masters will throw whatever they have left and everyone they can gather in an attempt to change the course of the war and at least delay their defeat,” Zelensky said in the video’s title.

We must disrupt this Russian scenario. We are preparing for this. The terrorists must lose. Any attempt to launch their new offensive must fail.”

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

Putin plans to hold talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russia’s Interfax news agency, the latest in a series of talks the two men have had since the start of the war.

Turkey acted as a mediator alongside the United Nations last year to seal an agreement allowing the export of grain from Ukrainian ports, but the chances of serious peace talks appear remote, especially as fighting continues to rage.

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