Ukraine claims heavy Russian losses in missile attacks
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine has announced a series of successful artillery attacks on Russian barracks in the first days of the year, claiming that it hit newly enlisted soldiers and other soldiers where they were. sleeping or gathering, killing or injuring more than 1,000 people.
The Russian military confirmed one of the three claimed attacks, although it put the death toll much lower than Ukrainian estimates. However, even the lower number of 89 soldiers killed in that attack represents a staggering defeat for the Russian army.
Social media posts, reports from local residents and Russians blogging about military affairs gave partial confirmation of other attacks that Ukraine claimed, but did not confirm the number of attacks. casualties.
Military analysts say Ukraine’s use of long-range artillery, including US-supplied HIMARS precision missiles, to target barracks marks a shift for artillery forces. The force has concentrated on facilities such as ammunition depots for months.
Ukraine’s military’s focus on Russian infantry is one of the first changes seen in the use of US-supplied weapons in response to Russia’s mobilization of hundreds of thousands of troops in the fall. Analysts say the random movement of additional troops into the war zone, many of them poorly trained and commanded, has created new targets behind the front lines for artillery. can fire more than 20 miles and the HIMARS missile has a range of up to about 50 miles. To speak.
Russian authorities say that the use of personal mobile phones by those enlisted on New Year’s Eve helped Ukrainians identify a vocational school, used to house soldiers, that had been attacked. in the city of Makiivka in eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine said the attack killed or injured hundreds of soldiers, while the Russians reported 89 deaths. Casualty estimates cannot be independently confirmed, and the military often exaggerates enemy losses and downplays their own. But in this case, the images of the pancake school and the Russian military’s confirmation of serious losses suggest a well-planned attack.
In the following days, the Ukrainian military announced two more attacks against a series of towns in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions in southern Ukraine, causing a total of about 1,200 casualties in all three attacks together. It is not yet clear how reliable the claims are.
The Russians mitigated damage in Zaporizhzhia and Kherson, but residents in neighboring areas of the occupied territory told Ukrainian officials they heard loud explosions around the time of the clashes. strike.
A New York Times analysis of the footage confirms severe damage at the veterans association in Tokmak merged into the hospital complex, as well as the partial destruction of a four-story building along a street. trade in Vasylivka. Both cities, in the Zaporizhzhia region, are locations where the Ukrainian military said it attacked. It is unclear if any of these buildings are home to Russian soldiers.
Claims of Ukrainian casualties may be partly aimed at demoralizing the enemy.
On Friday, Ukrainian officials issued a warning that appeared to be part of a campaign to encourage men in Russia to avoid military service: They said much of Russia-occupied southern Ukraine was now within range of Russia. Ukrainian artillery.
Andriy Cherniak, a spokesman for Ukraine’s military intelligence service, told the Ukrinform news agency on Wednesday: “Due to our foreign partners providing us with new types of weapons, the so-called corridors land to Crimea is certainly not safe. The reference is to the area along the Sea of Azov connecting southern Russia with the occupied Crimean Peninsula, an enclave that Russia seized early in its invasion.
Serhiy Hrabsky, a former colonel in the Ukrainian army who is now a commentator for Ukrainian media, said the recent attacks showed that Ukraine had begun trying to target conscripts as they deployed.
“Currently, we see a large number of Russian troops concentrated on the front lines,” Hrabsky said.
Lacking enough trucks and other vehicles to disperse troops within range of Ukrainian missiles, Russian commanders, he said, allowed large groups to congregate — and become vulnerable. “They need to focus them just to move them from point A to point B,” says Hrabsky.
Russian bloggers, who covered the war and offered a simpler lens on the Russian military than the state media, often disdained the strikes in southern Ukraine despite criticizing gays. scolded the Russian military command about the acknowledged attack on Makiivka.
But bloggers went viral on New Year’s Day video showing a badly damaged building that The Times geolocated for a country club about 28 miles from the town, where the Ukrainian military said it was. knew they had attacked the troop unions.
Some military bloggers say that a Russian volunteer may have accidentally revealed the location of the venue, the Grand Prix Country Club, by posting on social media. A man using the name Petr Lozhkovoy posted photos of the site online in November and December and said Russian special forces were present.
The Russian Ministry of Defense has not yet commented on any attacks other than Makiivka. Pro-war correspondents from Russia and occupation agencies provided limited details of other attacks, saying military losses were minimal while emphasizing collateral damage Civil.
Two prominent Russian military social media channels confirmed a Ukrainian attack in the Chulakovka region of the Kherson region on New Year’s Eve without providing casualty estimates. The Telegram Gray Zone channel, which is affiliated with the Russian mercenary group Wagner, said the attack hit an agricultural complex near the village but gave no other details.
A review by The Times of medium-resolution satellite imagery of Chulakovka, as well as the farming complex, did not show any detectable damage from a strike, although this That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.
Radio Liberty quoted a local official from the town as saying that an explosion was heard in the area of the pig farm where Russian soldiers were stationed.
During a strike in the Zaporizhzia region on January 2, residents of nearby towns reported hearing a loud explosion, said Dmytro Orlov, the exiled mayor of the Russian-occupied city of Enerhodar. a phone interview.
Pro-Russian bloggers posted about attacks in the area two days after the Ukrainian military announced the attacks and claimed that civilian sites, including a hospital, had been attacked.
Andrew E. Kramer Report from Kiev, Ukraine. Report contributed by Oleksandr Chubko from Kiev, and by Alina Lobzina and Dmitry Khavin. James Surdam production contribution.