Makiivka: Ukrainian rocket strike kills scores of Russian soldiers

Firefighters extinguish a fire next to houses destroyed during a Russian attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022. (AP Photo/Roman Hrytsyna)
Firefighters extinguish a fire next to houses destroyed during a Russian attack in Kyiv over the weekend. Credit: AP

63 Russian soldiers have been killed by a Ukrainian strike, Russia’s defence ministry said, amid claims the death toll could be far higher.

Ukrainian forces fired six rockets from a HIMARS launch system at a facility in the eastern Donetsk region, where Russian military personnel had been stationed.

Two of them were shot down, according to a Russian defence ministry statement.

The Ukrainian military has not directly confirmed the strike, but tacitly acknowledged it.

Local residents leave their homes that have been ruined in a Russian rocket attack in Zaporizhzhya, Ukraine. Credit: AP

The Strategic Communications Directorate of Ukraine’s Armed Forces claimed on Sunday that some 400 mobilised Russian soldiers were killed in a vocational school building in Makiivka and about 300 more were wounded.

That claim could not be independently verified. The Russian statement said the strike occurred “in the area of Makiivka” and didn’t mention the vocational school.

The strike referred to by Moscow used a US supplied precision weapon and delivered a new setback for Russia, which in recent months has reeled from a Ukrainian counteroffensive.

A further 40 Russian drones were shot down during the night over the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv as a "relentless" New Year attack on the country continued, officials said.

The Kremlin signalled no letup in its strategy of using bombardments to target civilian infrastructure and wear down Ukrainian resistance to its invasion.

The barrage was the latest in a series of year-end attacks, including one that killed three civilians on New Year's Eve.

Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko speaking to the press last year. Credit: AP

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Monday that 40 Russian drones were “headed for Kyiv” overnight. All of them were destroyed, according to air defence forces.

Mr Klitschko said 22 drones were destroyed over the Ukrainian capital, three in the outlying Kyiv region and 15 over neighbouring provinces.

Energy infrastructure facilities were damaged as a result of the attack and an explosion occurred in one city district, the mayor said. It wasn’t immediately clear whether that was caused by drones or other munitions.

A wounded 19-year-old man was hospitalised, Mr Klitschko added, and emergency power outages were underway in the capital.

Russia carried out airstrikes on the Ukrainian capital over New Year's Eve and killed three people, as Vincent McAviney reports.

In the outlying Kyiv region a “critical infrastructure object” and residential buildings were hit, Governor Oleksiy Kuleba said.

Russia has carried out airstrikes on Ukrainian power and water supplies almost weekly since October.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Russia of “energy terrorism” as the aerial bombardments have left many people without heat amid freezing temperatures.

Officials say Moscow is “weaponising winter” in its effort to demoralise the Ukrainian resistance.

Ukraine is using sophisticated Western-supplied weapons to help shoot down Russia’s missiles and drones, as well as send artillery fire into Russian-held areas of the country.

A blistering New Year’s Eve assault killed at least four civilians across the country, Ukrainian authorities reported, and wounded dozens.

The fourth victim, a 46-year-old resident of Kyiv, died in a hospital on Monday morning, Mr Klitschko said.

Multiple blasts rocked the capital and other areas of Ukraine on Saturday and through the night.

The strikes came 36 hours after Russia launched widespread missile attacks on Thursday to damage energy infrastructure facilities, and the unusually quick follow-up alarmed Ukrainian officials.

Anatolii Kaharlytskyi, 73, in his bombed house in Kyiv where his daughter Iryna died after an attack by Russia. Credit: AP

In Russia, a Ukrainian drone hit an energy facility in the Bryansk region that borders with Ukraine, Bryansk regional governor Alexander Bogomaz reported on Monday morning.

A village was left without power as a result, he said.

Moscow's full-scale invasion on February 24 has gone awry, putting pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin as his ground forces struggle to hold ground and advance.

He said in his New Year's address to the nation that 2022 was “a year of difficult, necessary decisions.”

Putin insists he had no choice, but to send troops into Ukraine because it threatened Russia’s security - an assertion condemned by the West, which says Moscow bears full responsibility for the invasion.

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the nation in Moscow Credit: Russian Presidential Press Service via AP

Russia is currently observing public holidays until January 8 but drones, missiles and artillery shells launched by Russian forces have also struck areas across Ukraine.

Five people were wounded in the Monday morning shelling of a Ukraine-controlled area of the southern Kherson region, its Ukrainian Governor Yaroslav Yanushevich said on Telegram.

The Russian forces attacked the city of Beryslav, the official said, firing at a local market, likely from a tank.

Three of the wounded are in serious condition and are being evacuated to Kherson, Mr Yanushevich said.

Seven drones were shot down over the southern Mykolaiv region, according to Governor Vitali Kim, and three more were shot down in the southeastern Dnipropetrovsk region, Governor Valentyn Reznichenko said.

In the Dnipropetrovsk region, a missile was also destroyed, according to Mr Reznichenko. He said that energy infrastructure in the region was being targeted.

Ukraine's Air Force Command reported Monday that 39 Iranian-made exploding Shahed drones were shot down overnight, as well as two Russian-made Orlan drones and a X-59 missile.

“We are staying strong,” the Ukrainian defence ministry tweeted.

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