Ukrainian rocket strike near Makeyevka kills 63 Russian servicemen

Ukraine puts death toll from New Year’s Eve strike in the occupied city of Makiivka at 400 Russian soldiers.

Russia has said that 63 of its troops were killed during a Ukrainian New Year’s Eve attack on a makeshift barracks in the partly-occupied Donetsk region.

The ministry said in a statement on Monday that Ukraine’s military had launched six projectiles at the “provisional base” in the eastern city of Makiivka using the HIMARS guided rocket system supplied by the United States.

Two of the missiles were shot down by Russian air defences, it added, but four struck the building.

The ministry’s statement came after the Strategic Communications Department of Ukraine’s armed forces said late on Sunday that 400 Russian troops were killed in the attack and another 300 were wounded.

Footage posted online appeared to show a building purported to be a vocational college in Russian-controlled Makiivka reduced to smouldering rubble.

Moscow-backed authorities in Donetsk also acknowledged casualties from the attack.

Daniil Bezsonov, a senior Russia-backed official in the region, said the vocational college had been hit by HIMARS rockets a minute after midnight on Saturday.

“There were dead and wounded,” Bezsonov said late on Sunday in a post on the Telegram messaging app. “The exact number is still unknown. The building itself was badly damaged.”

Igor Girkin, a former Federal Security Service officer who helped Russia annex the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in 2014 and then organise pro-Russian separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, said on Monday that “the number of dead and wounded runs into many hundreds.”

Girkin, who has bitterly criticised Russia’s military failures in Ukraine, said ammunition had been stored in the same building where the recruits had been accommodated.

“This is not the only such [extremely dense] deployment of personnel and equipment in the destruction zone of HIMARS missiles,” he said on Telegram.