- Russia said it killed hundreds of Ukrainian troops in revenge for a deadly strike on its forces.
- The Kremlin claimed over 600 Ukrainian troops died in a strike on Sunday in Kramatorsk.
- However, journalists and officials reported that there’s no evidence that a single soldier died.
Russia claimed it killed hundreds of Ukrainian troops over the weekend in response to a deadly attack carried out by Kyiv over the New Year holiday, but there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that happened.
Moscow said it killed over 600 Ukrainians in a Sunday missile strike on temporary bases in the eastern city of Kramatorsk, state-run news outlet TASS reported.
“Over the past day, Russian intelligence means detected and reliably confirmed through various independent channels some temporary bases of Ukrainian servicemen in Kramatorsk,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson Lt. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said, according to the report. “As a result of a massive missile strike on these temporary bases of Ukrainian units, more than 600 Ukrainian servicemen were killed.”
However, there appears to be no evidence to support the Russian claim. Journalists from multiple news outlets visited the area and reported that there were no indications of mass causalities. A Reuters team even said there were no obvious signs that soldiers had been living in the building.
—Eliot Higgins (@EliotHiggins) January 8, 2023
Ukrainian officials have also pushed back on Moscow’s claim. The mayor of Kramatorsk said no soldiers had been killed or injured, and Serhii Cherevatyi, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s military, told CNN that Russia’s story is “nonsense.”
Municipal workers clear the rubble on the roof of College No. 47 which was damaged by a Russian rocket attack in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023.
AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka
Even Russian mil-bloggers have questioned the Kremlin’s claims and criticized Moscow’s military leadership for making things up in an attempt to try and make it seem like Russia successfully retaliated for a recent Ukrainian strike that killed scores of Russian troops, the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, said in an analysis.
Critics, ISW explained, said Russia’s defense ministry regularly makes false claims and expressed dissatisfaction with the leadership for fabricating a story of revenge rather than addressing the failures responsible for Russian losses.
According to TASS, the Kramatorsk strike was carried out in response to a devastating Ukrainian attack on Russian forces that took place over the New Year holiday. Kyiv used a US-provided High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) to strike Russian positions in the occupied city of Makiivka. The Kremlin said the attack killed nearly 90 of Moscow’s troops in a rare disclosure of battlefield losses.
Ukraine’s military offered a much higher death toll, claiming as many as 400 troops were killed with another 300 injured. Neither of the estimates could be independently verified.
The attack immediately stirred sweeping criticism of Russia’s military leadership and ignited calls within Russia to punish top officials. Moscow later pinned blame for the attack on the use of cellphones by its own soldiers — which Russia said allowed Ukraine to determine their location and carry out the strike. That story was dismissed by many in both Russia and Ukraine.
The losses suffered by the Russians in Makiivka have been attributed to the stationing of Russian troops close together near ammunition storage within firing range, actions considered to be substantial missteps on the part of Russian commanders.