Unauthorized use of cellphones by Russian soldiers led to a Ukrainian attack that killed 89 soldiers, the military says

Unauthorized use of mobile phones by Russian soldiers led to a deadly Ukrainian missile attack on the facility where they were stationed, according to the Russian military, as it increased the death toll attack on the weekend until 89

Lt. Gen. Sergei Sevryukov said in a statement late Tuesday that phone signals allowed Kiev’s armed forces to “determine the coordinates of the location of military personnel” and launch a strike.

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Russian Lieutenant General Sergei Sevryukov

Russian Defense Ministry press service via AP


The Russian military is taking unspecified measures to “prevent similar tragic incidents in the future,” Sevryukov said, promising to punish officials responsible for the mistake.

The attack, one of the deadliest on Kremlin forces since the beginning of the the war more than 10 months ago, according to Sevryukov, a minute after the beginning of the New Year.

It was the latest blow to the Kremlin’s military prestige as it struggles to move forward with the invasion of its neighbor and has sparked renewed criticism within Russia over the way the war is being conducted amid a successful Ukrainian counter-offensive.

Ukrainian forces fired six rockets from a multiple launch system at a building where the soldiers were stationed. A knowledgeable official confirmed to CBS News that this was supplied by America HIMARS systems were used in the attack on the base. Two rockets were launched, but four hit the building and detonated, causing the structure to collapse.

Details of the strike have been leaked in recent days.

British intelligence officials said on Wednesday that Moscow’s “unprofessional” military practices were likely in part to blame for the high casualty rate among troops.

“Given the extent of the damage, there is a realistic possibility that munitions were stored near a troop barracks that detonated and caused secondary explosions during the strike,” the UK MoD said in a Twitter post.

In the same post, the ministry said the building hit by Ukrainian missiles was just over 7.5 miles from the front line in “one of the most contested areas of the conflict” in the Donetsk region.

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Workers clear debris after a deadly Ukrainian missile attack on a building occupied by the Russian military January 3, 2023 in Makiivka in Russia’s occupied Donetsk region of Ukraine.

AP


“The Russian military had records of unsafe ammunition stockpiling well before the current war, but this incident shows how unprofessional practices contribute to Russia’s high casualty rate,” the update added.

The Kremlin is preparing for this increase the use of Iranian-made exploding drones after the death of Russian soldiers, said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

“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.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin-appointed leader of the Donetsk region, one of four that Moscow illegally annexed in September, on Wednesday praised the “courage and true heroism” of the dead Russian soldiers.

Denis Pushilin said in a Telegram post that some of those killed tried to drag their comrades out of the burning building.

In Samara, southwest Russia, locals gathered Tuesday for an Orthodox service to commemorate the dead. The service was followed by a minute’s silence and flowers were laid at a Soviet-era war memorial, state agency RIA Novosti reported. According to unconfirmed reports in Russian-language media, the victims were mobilized reservists from the region.

The Russian Defense Ministry, in a rare admission of casualties, initially said the attack killed 63 soldiers. But as emergency services searched the rubble of the building, the death toll rose. Among the dead was the deputy commander of the regiment.

According to unconfirmed reports, the death toll is much higher.

The Strategic Communications Directorate of the Ukrainian Armed Forces claimed on Sunday that about 400 mobilized Russian soldiers were killed and about 300 others wounded in a vocational school building in Makiivka. This claim could not be independently verified. The Russian statement said the strike took place “in the Makiivka area” and the school was not mentioned.

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 commentators who have largely supported us for a long time the 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 Presidential Office of Ukraine said on Wednesday that at least five Ukrainian civilians were killed and 13 others injured in the past 24 hours when Russian forces attacked nine regions in the south and east of the country.

Ukraine continues to seek Western help in fighting the invasion.

At an EU-Ukraine summit on February 3, Selenskyj is scheduled to hold talks with EU Council President Charles Michel and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen about further European support.

The EU’s 27 national leaders will not attend the summit, officials say. The location of the summit was not disclosed.

Haley Ott contributed to this report.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ukraine-news-russia-military-blames-cell-phones-strike-soldier-deaths/ Unauthorized use of cellphones by Russian soldiers led to a Ukrainian attack that killed 89 soldiers, the military says

Rick Schindler

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