A Russian barracks in Donbas has been hit by a rocket system supplied to Ukraine by the United States. The death toll is said to be in the hundreds. Russia has noted the U.S.’s role in the attack as the world inches closer to an all-out war.
“Russia’s Defense Ministry said Monday that Ukrainian forces used a U.S.-supplied HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems) to destroy a facility used as a base for mobilized troops in the city of Makiivka,” The Wall Street Journal reports of the attack in Russian-occupied Donbas.
The Ukrainian side is claiming the true numbers among the Russian dead is much higher, with the Ukrainian military asserting that some 400 were killed and other 300 wounded – though Kiev didn’t directly take responsibility in the immediate aftermath, according to a report by ZeroHedge.
Meanwhile, the defense ministry has confirmed that only 63 Russian troops died in the blast, saying that a wave of HIMARS rockets delivering “high-explosive warheads” struck the facility that housed the troops.
Igor Girkin, a former Federal Security Service officer who helped Russia annex the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in 2014 and then organize pro-Russian separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, said on Monday that “the number of dead and wounded runs into many hundreds.”
Western media, including CNN and Reuters, have acknowledged being unable to independently verify the casualty numbers, however, some notable pro-Russian separatist officials have suggested it is more that the 63 dead officially cited by the Kremlin:
Though only revealed for the first time Monday, the strike reportedly took place soon after midnight on Sunday, New Year’s Day. Some Russian sources are suggesting an ammunition depot was next to the targeted facility, which likely resulted in a deadlier, expanded blast.
Some pundits say that the Russian troops’ use of cellular phones or other possible open-source communications could have tipped off the Ukrainians as to the presence and location of the base, given the potential for intercepted signals.
So the Ukrainian army appears to have hit a base of mobilised Russians in Makiivka in Donetsk. Reports suggest that at least 100 Russians were killed. They were using open source communications. So Rus army is starting 2023 like it ended 2022 then. Still using open source comms! pic.twitter.com/cHXMfQPnp6
— Dr Stephen Hall (@stephengfhall) January 1, 2023
Beyond the issue of the disputed death toll, another question is whether the Ukrainians had assistance in locating this target from US intelligence. If it comes out that the U.S. is more involved than simply supplying the Himars system (which is already enough to ignite Russia’s anger) the chances for a global war will increase.
There’s currently no official ruling class confirmation or clear evidence that U.S.-supplied HIMARS were used, as the Russians allege. But, as ZeroHegde pointed out, the fact that the facility struck was significantly behind the front lines may point to a longer-range weapon being used, such as has been supplied by Western powers. Ukraine also seems to now be openly boasting of its US-supplied capabilities in the wake of the mass casualty attack on Makiivka.
On October 28th of last year, CBS News reported that the U.S. sent $275 million more in aid to Ukraine which included the HIMARS.