MOSCOW, January 4 (Insiderblm) – The Russian defense ministry put the blame for a deadly missile strike by Ukraine on the use of mobile phones by its soldiers on Wednesday, upping the reported death toll from 63 to 89.
The New Year’s Eve attack, which Moscow acknowledged was the deadliest single incident since the war began, has infuriated pro-war Russian commentators, who are becoming more vocal about what they perceive to be an ineffective and half-hearted campaign in Ukraine.
Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, has not made any public comments regarding the attack, which dealt a further blow after significant battlefield retreats in recent months, and criticism has instead been leveled at military commanders.
The temporary Russian barracks at a vocational college in Makiivka, the twin city of the Russian-occupied regional capital of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, was hit by four Ukrainian rockets, according to the Russian defense ministry.
Although an investigation has been started, the Russian ministry claimed that the attack’s primary cause was the servicemen’s widespread, what it called illegal, use of mobile phones.
This factor made it possible for the enemy to track the soldiers and pinpoint their location for a missile strike,” it said in a statement released shortly after midnight on Tuesday (2200 GMT Wednesday).
Since open criticism of the war is prohibited by strict media regulations, Russia has effectively silenced all direct opposition to the conflict. However, it has given pro-war nationalist bloggers, many of whom have hundreds of thousands of social media followers, a comparatively free hand.
Putin’s Order of Courage recipient Semyon Pegov said on Telegram that blaming soldiers for using their phones “looks like an outright attempt to smear the blame.” He claimed that there were additional ways Ukraine might have discovered the base.
Pegov predicted a further increase in fatalities: “The data that was released most likely applies to those who were quickly identified. Unfortunately, the list of the missing is considerably longer.”
Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the president of Ukraine, who infrequently speaks on specific military operations by his country, made no mention of the attack in a video address on Tuesday.
At first, Ukraine claimed that Makiivka had seen the deaths of hundreds of Russians. Since then, it has stayed silent.
Zelenskiy claimed that Russia was about to begin a significant offensive.
In a video address, Zelenskiy stated, “We are certain that the current rulers of Russia will use every resource they still possess and every person they can assemble to try and change the course of the war and at the very least postpone their defeat.”
“We must stop this Russian scenario in its tracks. We are getting ready for this. Terrorists must fall short. Any attempt at their new offensive will be unsuccessful “He went on.
Putin issued the first call-up of reservists since World War Two after determining that Russia would lose territory in the second half of 2022. Since several weeks ago, Kiev has been claiming that Russia intends to launch a new round of mass conscription and close its borders to keep men from fleeing the draft.
The latest indication that the Kremlin may be considering such a step is the call for Putin to order a massive mobilization of millions of men from a little-known group claiming to speak for widows of Russian soldiers.
On Wednesday, the general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces claimed that Russia had attacked infrastructure in three cities—Kramatorsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson—with seven missile strikes, 18 airstrikes, and more than 85 multiple-launch rocket system attacks the day before.
The statement read, “Civilian casualties have occurred.” Russian officials deny targeting civilians.
Russian forces, according to Ukraine’s General Staff, also continued to focus on advancing in the vicinity of Bakhmut, a Donetsk city that has been largely destroyed by fighting for months. They also reportedly tried to strengthen other positions along the front line in that area.
On Wednesday, the Crimean city of Sevastopol’s newly-installed Russian governor, Mikhail Razvozhayev, claimed that two drones had been shot down nearby the Belbek military airfield by air defense systems.
According to Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin, Putin intends to speak with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday. This will be the latest in a string of discussions the two leaders have had since the war began.
The United Nations and Turkey served as mediators to reach an agreement allowing grain exports from Ukrainian ports. However, with Moscow demanding that Kyiv accept its annexation of land it had captured and Ukraine pledging to expel Russian troops from all of its territory, the likelihood of serious peace negotiations appears remote.
On February 24, Putin began what he refers to as a “special military operation” in Ukraine, citing the need to defend Russian speakers and threats to Russian security. Moscow is accused by Ukraine and its allies of making an unwarranted territorial grab in the imperialist fashion.