Russia says 63 soldiers killed in Makiivka blast

Nato's chief has urged nations to step up arms production as the war is using up 'massive amounts'

Ukrainian mortar crews fire on Russian lines in Donetsk. Reuters
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Russia has said 63 of its troops were killed in a strike on the city of Makiivka.

The statement from Moscow's defence ministry on Monday came after Kyiv claimed up to 400 Russian soldiers had died in the strike on the city in the eastern region of Donetsk. However, authorities in Kyiv stopped short of claiming responsibility for the blast on the Russian-controlled region on New Year's Day.

“As a result of a strike by four missiles with a high-explosive warhead on a temporary deployment point, 63 Russian servicemen were killed,” Russia said.

The defence ministry said a building used as accommodation for servicemen had been hit by four rockets fired from American-made Himars launchers, claiming two rockets had been shot down.

Russian military bloggers, many with hundreds of thousands of followers, said the huge destruction was a result of storing ammunition in the same building as a barracks, despite commanders knowing it was within range of Ukrainian rockets.

Kyiv was on Monday hit by another barrage of Iranian-made drones that damaged energy facilities and caused power cuts, a day after Russia launched “happy new year” strikes on the capital.

Sirens wailed as residents were alert to the threat from above throughout the night.

“It is loud in the region and in the capital: night drone attacks,” Kyiv Governor Oleksiy Kuleba wrote on Telegram. “Russians launched several waves of Shahed drones. Targeting critical infrastructure facilities. Air defence is at work.”

Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, said the strikes had caused “emergency power outages in the city”.

Earlier, he said, one person was wounded by shrapnel from a drone that hit a road and damaged a building in a north-eastern district of the capital.

The attack came a day after Moscow bombarded Ukraine with a wave of drones, including at least one inscribed with the message “Happy New Year”.

Photos of the wreckage of the unmanned vehicle were posted online by Andriy Nebytov, Kyiv’s police chief. The drone also featured drawings of a wrapped gift and a bauble with the word “boom” on it.

The drone was marked as a Geran-2, the Russian name for the Shahed-136 drones. In recent months, Moscow has been launching the devices in vast numbers across Ukraine.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy used his overnight message Sunday to say Russian efforts would prove useless.

“Drones, missiles, everything else will not help them,” he said of the Russians. “Because we stand united. They are united only by fear.”

The attacks on the capital and other cities on New Year’s Day left three people dead and wounded around 50.

Meanwhile, fighting in the eastern Donbas region is concentrating on a strategic motorway, according to British intelligence.

“Over the last five days, Russian and Ukrainian forces have probably been fighting for control of the P66 highway, north of the Russian-held Luhansk Oblast town of Kremina,” the UK’s Ministry of Defence said,

“The P66 is a key supply route for the northern section of Russia’s Donbas front from the Belgorod region of Russia.

“Its use has been disrupted by Ukrainian artillery since October, but if Ukraine were able to secure the route, if would highly likely further undermine Russia’s defence of Kremina.”

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Sunday said the Ukraine war is using an “enormous amount” of munitions and western allies must increase arms production soon to ensure supplies do not dwindle.

The heavy use of weapons on both sides is a sign that the Russians are digging in, he said.

Several people were reported to have been injured in an attack on the eastern city of Makiivka in the Donetsk region occupied by Russian forces.

The Moscow-installed administration of the Donetsk region said on Sunday that at least 25 rockets were fired at the region overnight on New Year’s Eve, hitting a military quarters

A local official said 15 people were wounded, according to Russia’s Tass state news agency. In a separate report, Tass cited the head of the Donetsk People’s Republic as saying that air defence systems had intercepted Ukrainian rockets aimed at the region on Saturday night.

“Our air defence system was actively working. Otherwise, there would have been far more strikes,” Denis Pushilin said. “Well-co-ordinated work by our counter-battery struggle personnel and artillery did not allow the enemy to carry out these attacks with impunity.”

Ukraine war latest — in pictures

Updated: January 02, 2023, 4:48 PM