Ukraine denies Russia claims it killed hundreds of soldiers


Moscow said its “retaliatory strike” killed more than 600 soldiers, but Kiev said its forces were not hit.

Russia has claimed its army carried out a deadly “retaliatory” attack on barracks used by Ukrainian soldiers in the Donbas region, while Ukraine denied any casualties in the attack.

Russia’s defense ministry said missiles hit two temporary bases housing 1,300 Ukrainian troops in Kramatorsk, in the eastern Donetsk region. It said “more than 600 Ukrainian servicemen were killed” as a result of what they called a “retaliatory attack” on Ukrainian soldiers.

Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said the attack was carried out in retaliation after Ukraine killed dozens of Russian troops in an attack on Makiivka last week.

Ukrainian officials denied any casualties in the Russian attack on Kramatorsk.

Serhiy Cherevaty, a spokesman for the Ukrainian armed forces in the east, said Russian attacks on Kramatorsk only damaged civilian infrastructure.

“Ukraine’s armed forces were not affected,” he added.

People look at the site of a Russian missile strike that took place at night in Kramatorsk, Ukraine on January 8, 2023 [Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters]

The head of the Donetsk regional administration, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said earlier on Sunday that the Russians launched seven rocket attacks on Kramatorsk, adding that “an educational institution, an industrial facility and a garage cooperative” had been damaged and there were no casualties.

Kramatorsk mayor Oleksandr Honcharenko said two school buildings and eight apartment buildings were damaged.

Reporters from the Reuters news agency visited the university’s two dormitories that, according to the Russian Defense Ministry, temporarily housed Ukrainian soldiers close to the front lines of the war during the night strike.

Neither appeared to have been directly hit by missiles or seriously damaged, they said. There were no obvious signs that soldiers had lived there and there were no signs of bodies or traces of blood.

Attack in Makiivka

In the early hours of January 1, Ukrainian forces launched missiles at a facility where Russian soldiers were stationed in Makiivka, Donetsk.

At least 89 Russian soldiers were killed in one of the deadliest attacks on Moscow’s troops since the start of the war on February 24, 2022.

Also on Sunday, the Ukrainian army claimed it hit a medical college residence hall in Rubizhne, a town in the Russian-occupied eastern Luhansk region, killing 14 Russian soldiers stationed there. The number of injured was not known, it said.

Elsewhere in the east, Donetsk governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said one person was killed in attacks on Bakhmut and eight others were injured.

In the northeastern region of Kharkiv, the town of Merefa was struck overnight, killing one person and shelling two other settlements in the region, Governor Oleh Syniehubov said.

The developments came after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a 36-hour ceasefire to mark Christmas for Orthodox Christians, who observe the holiday on January 7. The ceasefire ended at 23:00 in Kiev (21:00 GMT) on Saturday.

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