After the Ukrainian attack on a military camp in Donetsk, Russia reports at least 63 soldiers killed, Ukraine speaks of 400. It is one of the most serious setbacks for Russia. Military bloggers accuse the Kremlin of “incompetence and incompetence.” What is known about the attack.
It was probably one of the deadliest Ukrainian attacks against Russia since the beginning of the war: Ukraine killed dozens of Russian soldiers in an airstrike in a shelter in Russian-held Donbass. Many of them were probably young Russian recruits, freshly sent to the front. The Russian Defense Ministry spoke of 63 deaths on Monday, the Ukrainian military even reported 400 dead and 300 injured.
After the violent attack, criticism of the military leadership in Russia was again voiced. The former commander and influential military blogger Igor Girkin reports on Telegram about hundreds of dead and wounded soldiers – contradicting the official Kremlin accounts. The military channel “Greyzone” also reports at least 130 deaths.
Even if none of the numbers can be verified without a doubt, 63 deaths would be one of the most painful attacks against the Russian army since the beginning of the war. And once again the Kremlin’s war policy is up for debate. In his New Year’s speech, President Vladimir Putin promised to analyze the military’s mistakes and weaknesses in detail.
What happened next in the attack in Makiivka should be another reason for military bloggers to question Putin’s war policy. Apparently, the strike against the Russian soldiers was only made possible because they logged their cell phones into the local cell phone network. Being housed in a school near an ammunition depot also added to the lethality of the Ukrainian attack using American HIMARS missiles. Nationalist Girkin writes: “Our generals are fundamentally unteachable.”
The Russian military expert Boris Roshin writes: “Incompetence and the inability to understand the experiences of the war are still a serious problem.” A spokesman for the government installed by Russia in the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” (DNR) spoke of one “massive blow”. “The enemy has inflicted the heaviest defeats on us in this war. Not because of his coolness or talent, but because of our mistakes,” Daniil Bezsonov wrote on Telegram.
On the defensive, the Kremlin is now trying to shift the blame onto Donetsk officials. As the American Institute for War Studies (ISW) reports, some military commanders are already demanding the resignation of DNR chief Denis Puschilin. The officials who reported that the school was used as a military quarters next to the ammunition depot should also be punished.
“The Russian Ministry of Defense may have intentionally relied on DNR officials to blame the mobilized soldiers for the attack in order to portray the DNR as the responsible party,” the ISW said. Dara Massciot, a political scientist at RAND Corporation, told the New York Times that Russian officials “do not typically provide this type of information after a major loss, suggesting they want to control the narrative about the incidents.”
Also noteworthy is the involvement of the American HIMARS missile launchers in the Ukrainian attack. According to Russian sources, at least four rockets hit the building. Makiivka is within 50 miles of the nearest Ukrainian positions and could be hit with the satellite-guided missiles. The rocket systems are extremely effective, especially against stationary targets such as buildings or ammunition depots. The HIMARS systems are considered the most important western-supplied weapon on the battlefield.
The attack probably also hit Putin’s junior soldiers, as reported by the New York Times, citing Russian state media. The newly arrived recruits are said to have made the precise localization possible in the first place by dialing their mobile phones into the mobile network. Although mobile phones are strictly forbidden at the front, Russian soldiers use them to reveal their locations time and time again.