Kyiv Dismisses Russia's Claim That It Launched A Deadly Attack On Ukrainian Troops

Meanwhile, the UK believes Moscow is "prioritising avoiding reputational damage".
People look at the site of a missile strike that occurred during the night, in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, January 8, 2023.
People look at the site of a missile strike that occurred during the night, in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, January 8, 2023.
Clodagh Kilcoyne via Reuters

Kyiv has denied Russia’s claim that it just killed more than 600 Ukrainian troops in a deadly attack.

While there is no evidence that such an attack happened, Moscow has alleged that it was behind a “mass missile strike” in the Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk, in the east over the weekend.

Russia claimed that this was its “retaliatory strike” for the New Year’s Day attack, which Moscow says killed 89 of its own soldiers while they were in a Russian base.

Ukraine, on the other hand, claims as many as 400 Russian troops were actually killed or wounded in the same strike.

Now, Russia’s defence ministry has suggested that more than 600 Ukrainian soldiers were killed after Moscow targeted buildings where 1,300 troops were supposedly temporarily based.

The local mayor shared images of the damaged buildings and claimed two school sites, eight apartment buildings and garages were affected – but, there were no reported casualties, according to reports on the ground.

Kramatorsk is also easily accessible, and journalists in the area said there were no sign that there were hundreds of casualties from the attack.

Ukrainian army spokesman, Serhiy Cherevaty, told the BBC: “This is another piece of Russian propaganda.”

He said that the Russians did attack the area with seven missiles, but it had no impact on the Ukrainian army.

Sky News’ international correspondent Alex Rossi suggested that “Moscow is desperate for a victory after the huge loss of troops” in the New Year’s Day strike.

He added that “the claim is not consistent with Ukrainian military practice”, as this many soldiers do not all bunk up within artillery range.

But, as the reporter points out, amid growing the domestic audience’s growing concern that the war is still not going the way the Kremlin intended, this will be perceived as a victory.

It comes after Russian president Vladimir Putin suggested a 36-hour ceasefire last week, so Russian citizens could mark the Orthodox Christmas, although shelling began very soon after.

The UK’s ministry of defence also explained what was going on with Russia’s weaponry in its latest update.

It said: “Russia is highly likely prioritising avoiding the reputational damage, reduced export prospects, and the compromise of sensitive technology.”

The MoD claimed this worry about “compromise” is related to Russia’s “most advanced fifth-generation supersonic combat jet” which has only been used over Russian land so far, to launch missiles into Ukrainian territory.

“This is symptomatic of Russia’s continued risk-averse approach to employing its air force in the war,” the MoD claimed.

Ukraine’s military intelligence has also alleged that Russia is looking to mobilise as many as 500,000 conscripts in mid-January, on top of the 300,000 brought into the army back in October.

Russia has denied any plans for a second wave of mobilisation – it’s worth noting that the September call-up sparked protests across the country.

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