Russia has admitted to suffering the deadliest strike on its troops since Putin launched his full-scale invasion of Ukraine 10 months ago.
The Kremlin has confirmed that 63 of its soldiers were killed in a series of strikes on a temporary barracks in the Eastern Donetsk region.
The Ukrainian Defense Forces have claimed responsibility for the New Year’s Eve attack and say the true death toll is much higher this footage shows.
In the aftermath of the strike, Russian media have sharply criticized the senior officers involved here’s part of the kremlin’s rare admission two days after the attack
The Kyiv regime targeted a temporary deployment point of one of the units of the Russian Armed Forces near
The settlement of making in the Donetsk People’s Republic with six Rockets of u.s-made hymas multiple rocket launchers Russian air defense systems shot down two high Mars. Rockets as a result of the strike of four missiles with a high explosive.
A warhead at a temporary deployment Point 63 Russian servicemen was killed all necessary assistance and support will be provided to the relatives and Friends of the killed servicemen.
Samuel Romani joins me now for more he teaches politics and international relations at the University of Oxford he’s also the author of The forthcoming book Putin’s war on Ukraine Russia’s campaign for Global counter.
Revolution Mr. Romani good to see you again welcome to the day that Russia would acknowledge a loss of this magnitude well it’s very very uh remarkable because Russia usually cloaks as casualty figures under numbers like heavy losses which is something that Dimitri prescribe is often used as an expression.
And it very infrequently updates the number of deaths and if you take an example of this there was an attack on wonder group mercenaries in emdash Syria uh four years ago. And the Russians believe only five people died.
Actually, 100 died so acknowledging this love of casual days is quite unprecedented criticism has been mounting in Russia against the military leadership. How has this attack in particular been received well I don’t think that this attack has provoked the kind of ferocity of criticism against it?
The military leadership that we saw after the withdrawals from turkey or the attack even a week ago on angel’s air base but there have been some uh critical voices and who was the uh former.
FSB Colonel who was one of the leading critics of the defense Ministry has talked about hundreds of casualties. So a lot more closely aligned with the Ukrainian estimates and others have drawn attention to some of the operational mishaps that made this happen like why Russia concentrate
So many horses uh in one place even though the area of donesque is so depopulated there are so many abandoned buildings they could have scattered them why haven’t they built underground bunkers or underground fortifications why did they allow their cellular signal to be concentrated in one place.
So they can their identities can be given away so there’s there are criticisms of what’s happened here but it’s not as Fierce as I’ve seen them over the course of the past year you’re of course following every movement on the battlefield very closely.
Where do you see the war headed so right now I think we’re going through a bit of uh pause or a bit of a de-escalation in terms of actual Acquisitions of new territory from another side that doesn’t mean that the intensity of the conflict is going to deteriorate right in fact.
What we’ve seen from the first couple of days in the New Year intensity has never been but it’s just very hard for either side to be able to achieve a major breakthrough Ukraine’s long-term goal is to probably recapture its Apparition which is by melatopo.
Which is a key supply chain for the Russians and also tries to push for an advance in criminal and Luhansk but unlike the thousands of kilometers of advances.
That we’ve been seeing uh yeah yeah over the court in September and October increment they’re now advancing at only two kilometers a day even according to Ukrainian estimates similarly the Russians are made offensively stuck in the back.
Moot are focusing more on uh taking advantage of the difficult terrain by creating fortifications and even booby shopping in mining areas they hold.
So right now the Russians are focusing on holding. What they can do and maybe win back the vote Ukrainians are helping for incremental gains in separation and Luhansk. But it’s a much slower pace and much more attritional conflict.
So you’ve probably ever seen it now the big question we’re trying to answer today is will this war end in 2023 do you think there was a chance that this year?
We’ll see an end to this bloody conflict well there’s certainly a chance but it’s impossible to really say I think that if the Ukrainians are to capture all of the territories that they took over that they lost I mean since February 24th.
They will want to try to capture the rest of John bass and Crimea the United States has said that they will 100 commit to supporting Ukraine’s efforts to recapture.
The territory that was lost to us on is 24th but Ukraine would have to make its own judgment calls afterward so much depends on now at the level of Western support.
And the continuity of Western support if Ukraine wants to go and take a potential nuclear Risk by attacking Crimea and uh it also much depends on Russia’s desire to happen actually negotiate an escape out of this right now it seems as if the Russian negotiating position is that the Ukrainian has to recognize vaporization.
And Crimea is all part of Russia and aside from Crimea Russia doesn’t even control any of those regions in their entirety.
So Russia with an unrealistic and very very dangerous negotiation any green audience believe that this is their historic chance at Victory and that’s why I could easily see this war spilling over 2024.
And some analysts are actually saying that all of what you just described is putting Russia on course to become a failed state would you say they’re right so it’s hard to say whether a failed state is what it is I think even in terms of economic decline.
We’re noticing uh maybe a 2.9 decline in GDP and a nutritional erosion of the country’s long-term development prospects especially outside of the natural resource sphere but we’re not witnessing the kind of greater than Great Depression-type claps in the Russian economy that we saw during the 1990s.
The Russian Ruble is showing some weakness now after months of strength but it’s nowhere near the 1998 Ruble crisis there’s been uh obviously talk about Russia attentively defaulting.
But nothing at the level of the debt crisis that we saw in 1998 nor is there the kind of organized crime or the separatist movements in Chechnya are confined to limited protests.
I knocked you a civil war so Russia was not quite a failed state but viewing a fellow State during the 1990s it certainly isn’t there yet. But there is obviously the risk of uh greater uh internal unrest uh potentially interested.
If the war continues to go badly and we have to uh watch those risks, particularly the Dynamics between the Russian defense.
Ministry people like shoigu and Gerasimov and their most hawkish critics like khedirov and even the locker group yeah interesting stuff Samuel Romani of the University of Oxford thank you.
So much DW correspondent Roman Goncharenko is in Kyiv and he told us earlier what he knew about the New Year’s Eve attack in making well there are still um not so many details the Ukrainian Central Command mentioned that um uh in its Daily Bulletin in the evening saying that some 10 Russian Vehicles military vehicles were destroyed.
Or damaged but uh saying that the casualties number of casualties is still unknown before the Ukrainian Armed Forces said that up to 400 Russian soldiers have been killed the Russians are saying only 63 so there’s a huge gap between those figures.
What is striking is the very harsh criticism of the Russian Pro prop pro-government bloggers and pro-government commentators on social media.
This reminds me of the situation in September when the Ukrainians started to counter-offensive in the region of Kharkiv which was absolutely unexpected for the Russians and could regain territory.
So um the level of criticism of the Russian military officials who decided to do to let those soldiers be accumulated in one place and then be killed is very striking and um some here in Kyiv also expect now probably a Russian retaliation because there were similar incidents in the past um and the situation is still very Dynamic here in Kyiv yeah Russian Defense Ministry and the Ukrainian forces it is whatever that number be the biggest loss of life in a single event that the Kremlin is admitting to how is this being received by the Ukrainian people absolutely so it reminds um it could be or it is comparable in uh in some in some opinions uh to thinking a big Russian ship like that.
Moscow Flagship on the other hand the Ukrainian officials are um appear to be downplaying it maybe to prevent uh further escalation um because um it is it looks like a really big thing um probably much more dead than the Russian officials are telling the public and um on the other hand uh. The Ukrainian social networks of course are rejoicing they are happy because on that night.
Russia was continuing to strike Ukrainian territory including the capital Kyiv and the uh and the night after that as well so Russia is putting more pressure on Ukraine. So there was Joy on the Ukrainian side to show that Russians are also suffering.
The grain is just not just taking those Russian strikes and doing nothing because as I’ve said a couple of days before that Russia was putting more and more pressure on the Ukrainian civilian infrastructure, yeah and among several other parts of the country Kyiv has again come under intense Russian attack.
What’s the situation now at moment as we speak it is relatively calm during the day it was a warm day about 10 degrees plus centigrade.
There was a mixture you know of resilience a kind of a war situation as usual. So people seemed at least partially relaxed on the streets um just walking by expecting. The Orthodox Christmas is in a few days.
But on the other hand um during the evening and as the night began. Now there is growing tension there is an expectation of a further. Russian attack by drones Iranian drones and the key of is obviously the most valuable Target.
So there is this growing tension of what could happen at night and in the coming days DW correspondent Roman Goncharenko and Keith many things.
And stay safe for months now Russia has focused on Bak much in the Eastern donbass region the city has seen some of the most intense fighting of the war these images from the Ukrainian National Guard show the result of the Russian Onslaught much of the fighting is old-fashioned trench warfare the Frontline often barely moves at all shelling is causing heavy losses on both sides as soldiers are pinned down in well-known locations Medics do everything they can to save lives.
DW’s Max Thunder joined an evacuation team on the Eastern Front cheating death at high speed when taking the injured from the Ukrainian front lines every second counts tell me when you put your foot down an entry.
I’m flying around back here they call her it means little one she isn’t tall but few can match her combat medic experience she’s working on a soldier whose vehicle was involved in an explosion was this a ricochet no we hit a mine the driver threw me to the left and I saw everything he was thrown over the top.
I had earplugs in and a helmet on I hit my head and got hit in the chest the soldier will most likely fully recover his driver is dead. So we have some other things to take care of do you have children with foreign on the way to the hospital.
But their mind is still on the front everyone thought that we would break but in fact, we stand and we’ll continue to stand all these raids only angers us more and makes everyone stronger it’s been a Grim Day today is a very difficult day the enemy.
The Russian aggressor will not calm down he sees the advantages on our side and fights harder and harder however I am desperate because today, unfortunately.
We had 20 but lost three years finding the strength to face what is coming out of the baking area for some of the hospitalers voluntary combat Medics faith is part of the answer converted to Islam while working with Muslim Volunteers in the field after hostilities began in 2014.
He says she only fears God but the job takes its toll what I have seen includes deaths and severed limbs opened heads and stomachs I put a barrier in front of me so to speak.
He is wounded I work with him and if I give up how will that help him so I hold on I have two nephews at home when I’m exhausted here barely on my feet and then I have a rotation I go home and see these nephews and other children fixes everything that can be fixed.
She has to return to the front even though it’s been quiet for a few days rain and low Cloud have created poor conditions for artillery and drones but in the distance, Cannons fired the weather has changed and the next evacuation call may just be moments away.