The Kremlin is preparing to step up its use of Iranian-made exploding drones after at least 63 Russian soldiers were killed in a Ukrainianon New Year’s Day, said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. In the attack, Ukraine hit a Russian military base in the occupied Donetsk region with US-made weapons.
“We have information that Russia is planning a prolonged attack [exploding drones]’ Zelenskyy said in his nightly speech on Monday. He said Russia’s goal is “to exhaust our people, our air defenses, our energy sector,” but Ukraine must keep fighting back.
63 people were killed in the New Year’s attack, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a rare admission of military casualties. The ministry said Ukraine fired six rockets from one, two of which were shot down. A knowledgeable official confirmed to CBS News that US-supplied HIMARS systems were used in the attack on the base.
Ukraine initially claimed the death toll from the attack was much higher than the figure reported by Russia. The Strategic Communications Directorate of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said Sunday at least 400 Russian soldiers were killed and 300 wounded in one of the deadliest Ukrainian attacks on Russian forces since the war began nearly a year ago. An official told CBS News the actual death toll is likely somewhere between Ukraine’s and Russia’s figures.
“On the one hand, they don’t like to admit that they have military casualties. On the other hand, they can try to gain public support by releasing these numbers and keeping them relatively high, but not admitting the full amount. Jeff Hawn, a Russia expert at the London School of Economics, told CBS News’ Ian Lee.
The attack on the base sparked a wave of criticism of Russia’s top military commanders, both online and from nationalist commentatorsthe Kremlin’s Ukraine strategy. Some commentators said that many more soldiers could have been killed in the attack than the Defense Ministry admitted and that this shows that Russian commanders had not learned from previous mistakes.
The Institute for the Study of War, a think tank, said late Monday that Putin is likely to seek to change the narrative of how the war is progressing and rebuild waning support for his Ukraine strategy among key players in Russia.
“Russia’s air and missile campaign against Ukraine is unlikely to generate the information effect the Kremlin wants among Russian nationalists,” the institute said. “Such profound military failures will continue to complicate Putin’s efforts to mollify Russia’s pro-war community and maintain the dominant narrative in the domestic information space.”
Zelenskyy said Ukraine’s task is to keep fighting back, big and small.
“Our task is to bring successes, achievements, even small ones, to Ukraine every day, but victories over terrorists and terror. Every drone shot down, every missile shot down, every day of electricity for our people and minimal power outages are just such victories. “
Mary Ilyushina contributed to this report.
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ukraine-news-russia-war-us-weapons-strike-military-base-retaliation-drones/ Ukraine says Russia plans to retaliate for deadly attack on military base with ‘prolonged’ drone strike