A Ukrainian strike on a Russian facility in occupied far eastern Ukraine killed at least 63 Russian soldiers, according to multiple reports, citing Russian state media, in one of the deadliest attacks Russia has acknowledged throughout the war, which has led to renewed Russian criticism of military leadership.
People pass by the crater that occured after the Russian missile attacks in the Solomyansk district ... [+] of Kyiv, Ukraine on January 1, 2023. (Photo by Mustafa Ciftci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)Anadolu Agency via Getty Images The attack came just after midnight on New Year's Day against a former vocational school in the city of Makiivka, near Donetsk, which had been converted into a military facility. Russian authorities rarely provide casualty numbers, but they gave the figure Monday after Ukrainian officials claimed the death toll was around 400. Russia said the strike was carried out using the U.S.-supplied HIMARS rocket system, which has allowed Ukrainian forces to carry out attacks far beyond the front lines, though Ukraine has not confirmed what weapons it used. Several prominent Russian military bloggers expressed outrage at military leaders over the attack, claiming the facility was destined for catastrophe since troops were being housed near a storage area filled with ammunition.
The attack came after Russia launched a wave of drone strikes against civilian targets in and around Kyiv. Ukraine claimed Monday it shot down 39 Russian drones fired overnight—the third night in a row of Russian attacks on Kyiv. Russian military forces have largely been on the retreat since last spring, when Ukrainian counterattacks forced Russians out of northern Ukraine and pushed them back in the country's south and east. Ukrainian forces have since recaptured several significant cities, like Kherson, Mykolaiv and Izium. Ukrainian officials are warning the air raids on Kyiv could serve as a precursor for a barrage of Russian attacks on Orthodox Christmas Eve (January 6) and Christmas Day (January 7). 'Attacks are happening three days in a row. Thus we should be prepared for new ones—keeping the powder dry and rockets charged,' Ukrainian military spokesman Yuriy Ihnat said, according to Bloomberg. Many Eastern Orthodox churches–including those in both Russia and Ukraine–traditionally celebrate Christmas in January, though many Ukrainians chose to celebrate on December 25 this season to distance themselves from the Russians. Ukrainian officials have previously warned of attacks on days of significance to Russian identity, such as Victory Day in May, though concerns of a Victory Day escalation of the war did not pan out.
In an address to Congress last month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged American lawmakers to continue funding the war effort, calling U.S. spending "an investment in … global security and democracy.' The visit was his first known trip out of Ukraine since the war started in February. Ukrainian Attack Kills 63 Russian Soldiers in East, Moscow Says (New York Times)
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Russian Forces ‘Fully Withdrawn' From Northern Ukraine, U.K. Defense Ministry Says (Forbes)