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A HIMARS multiple rocket launcher system in the northern part of the Kherson region, Ukraine, October 29, 2022

Ukrainian missile strike kills 63 on Russian base in Makiivka. The latest.

Source: Meduza
A HIMARS multiple rocket launcher system in the northern part of the Kherson region, Ukraine, October 29, 2022
A HIMARS multiple rocket launcher system in the northern part of the Kherson region, Ukraine, October 29, 2022
Hannibal Hanschke / EPA / Scanpix / LETA

The Center for Strategic Communications of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported on its Telegram channel that, in the early hours of January 1, a missile strike was carried out on a vocational school in Makiivka, which is located in the Russian-annexed part of the Donetsk region (the “DNR”). The Center said that Russian draftees were quartered in the school, and that the missile strike killed around 400 and wounded another 300 people.

On the night after the strike, Kremlin-backed representatives of the annexed DNR told Russian news agency TASS that 15 people were injured by shelling in Makiivka.

During its daily briefing on January 2, the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that a strike had taken place on a building housing a temporary deployment point for Russian service members. According to the ministry briefing, Ukrainian Armed Forces “attacked with a volley of six missiles from a HIMARS multiple rocket launcher system.” As a result of “four rockets with high-explosive warheads” reaching their target, 63 Russian service members were killed, while two rockets were shot down, says the ministry.

Publication Agentstvo pointed out that the Russian Defense Ministry has not previously admitted to such serious losses from one strike. The pro-Kremlin Telegram channel Romanov Light reported 200 casualties, without specifying how many were killed and how many wounded. Pro-Kremlin “war correspondent” Alexander Kots posted on his Telegram channel that, according to his information, there were more injuries than deaths as a result of the strike in Makiivka.

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Telegram channel Rybar (which was created by Mikhail Zvinchuk, a former employee of the Russian Defense Ministry’s press office) claims that all of the dead were draftees, and that 600 people were located in the building. According to sources of the Telegram channel Operativniye Svodki (Operations Reports), which Rybar cites, 78 people were killed and 136 wounded in the attack. The same Telegram channel reported that local residents served as spotters for the strike, though neither the Russian nor the Ukrainian side has commented on these statements.

Governor of the Samara region Dmitry Azarov spoke about the strike:

Our compatriots also came under enemy fire. There are wounded and, alas, there are dead. At present, we’re still getting final counts. I understand that many are worried right now, and want to find out more about their loved ones. Unfortunately, there is a lot of incorrect, and often fake, information on social media. [...] I’m in constant contact with the Ministry of Defense and the leadership of all supporting services. We will certainly provide comprehensive assistance in treating the wounded. Families of service members can count on our full support.

According to the Rybar Telegram channel, the school also housed ammunition stores, which detonated after the missile strike. 

On his personal Telegram channel, Daniil Bezsonov, the “deputy minister of information” of the DNR, held responsible the commanders who made the decision to keep service members in one building, rather than spreading them out. Various “Z channels” also expressed indignation at the location of the deployment point, among them Alexander Sladkov, reporter for the Russian state media network; Boris Rozhin, pro-Kremlin war blogger known by his pseudonym Colonelcassad; Andrey Medvedev, vice chairman of the Moscow City Duma; and the authors of Rybar.

TASS, citing law enforcement agencies in the self-proclaimed DNR, reports that the cause of the attack was the “high cellular activity of service members in Makiivka.” A TASS source said that “Preliminarily, the cause of the HIMARS rocket strike was the active use of mobile telephones by service members located in the area. The enemy used the ECHELON surveillance system to identify cellular activity and the location of subscribers.”

The publication 7 x 7 contacted relatives of service members stationed in Makiivka. The wife of one service member reported that the wounded “had been taken to hospitals, including in the Rostov region.” She added that “A few more guys called, they’re walking around practically naked. In slippers, the ones who survived. They have nothing: no things, no medicine or money, no food.” 

On January 2, Relatives of draftees from Saratov demanded that Governor Roman Busargin tell “the truth” about their compatriots. Roman Bursagin’s press office has not commented on the strike. The Telegram channel Romanov Light previously reported that draftees from Saratov were in the building. Later, a post on the Telegram channel Tvoi Geroi, Saratov ZOV, which is run by Saratov Regional Duma Deputy Alexander Yanklovich, said that “there were no losses among draftees and volunteers from the Saratov region in the HIMARS rocket strike on Makiivka.”

Still later, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine confirmed, in a daily report, information about strikes in Makiivka, writing that on December 31, up to ten pieces of military equipment, of various types, were destroyed or damaged in the region. “Losses among personnel are still being counted,” the General Staff reported.

In times of war, it is impossible to immediately verify information from the combat zone.
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