According to the president of Ukraine, Russia is preparing a protracted campaign of drone assaults to undermine Ukraine.
According to intelligence assessments Volodymyr Zelensky claimed to have obtained, Moscow will carry out the assaults using drones built in Iran called Shahed.
It follows a strike that Ukraine claims resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Russian soldiers in the Donbas region.
Russia acknowledged the strike claimed the lives of 63 of its soldiers, a rare admission of war casualties.
In his nightly presentation, Mr. Zelensky warned that Russia intended to “exhaust” Ukraine with a string of drone operations. He was speaking from Kyiv.
“We must ensure – and we will do everything for this – that this goal of terrorists fails like all the others,” he stated. “Now is the time when everyone involved in the protection of the sky should be especially attentive.”
Russian drone attacks on Ukraine appear to have risen recently; over the past three nights, Moscow has launched attacks on cities and power plants all around the nation.
Reporters claim that in addition to placing a load on the military of Ukraine, which must detect and intercept the drones, the strikes have an attritional effect on the civilian population, which must deal with the uncertainty, anxiety, and disruption they produce throughout the nation.
Since several months ago, Russia has been attacking Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, destroying power plants and leaving millions in the dark during the bitterly cold winter.
In the first days of 2023, according to Mr. Zelensky, Ukrainian air defenses have already shot down more than 80 drones built in Iran.
In other news, Ukraine has acknowledged carrying out a strike in the occupied Donetsk region, which it had earlier claimed resulted in the deaths of 400 Russian soldiers.
Russian officials denied this number, claiming that just 63 soldiers were killed. Both claims have not been independently verified, and site access is limited.
However, according to governor Dmitry Azarov, some of those slain and hurt were from Russia’s southwest Samara region. Azarov advised relatives to get in touch with a hotline or regional military offices.
Tuesday, in the region’s two largest cities, Samara and Tolyatti, families lay wreaths in memory of the deceased.
The building housing a vocational school in Makiivka, where Russian forces were stationed, was struck by the Ukrainian attack, which is said to have happened as Russians celebrated the new year.
Moscow rarely confirms any casualties on the battlefield.
However, because of how lethal the incident was, according to the BBC’s Russia editor Steve Rosenberg, remaining silent was probably not an option.
Since the war’s start 10 months ago, this episode has resulted in the most deaths recognized by Moscow.
According to a statement released by the Russian defense ministry on Monday, Ukrainian forces launched six rockets toward a structure housing Russian troops using the US-made Himars missile system. It said, “Two of them were shot down.”
Russian nationalist broadcaster Igor Girkin had earlier claimed that hundreds had died and been injured, while the precise figure was uncertain due to the significant number of people still unaccounted for.
He claimed that the structure was “nearly totally destroyed.”
He further said that rather than those who volunteered to fight, the victims were primarily mobilized troops, or recently enlisted soldiers. Additionally, he claimed that ammunition was kept in the same structure as the soldiers, worsening the damage.
He posted on Telegram that “almost all of the military equipment was also destroyed, which was right adjacent to the structure without any concealment anything.”
A number of Russian MPs have also sharply criticized military leaders for the assault, saying leaders must be held accountable for permitting troops to congregate in an exposed structure that was in the path of Ukrainian rockets and may have also housed munitions.
Former Russian Senate chairman Sergei Mironov claimed that neither air defense nor intelligence had performed as intended.
In addition to the estimated 400 fatalities, 300 people were also injured, the Ukrainian military reported earlier. The Ukrainian army claims to have killed dozens, perhaps even hundreds, of soldiers in attacks practically every day.
In a subsequent statement, the general staff of the Ukrainian military claimed that the strikes had “destroyed and damaged” up to 10 pieces of enemy military hardware and that “the losses of soldiers of the occupiers are being specified.”
According to the US-based Institute for the Study of War, the Moscow defense ministry was likely attempting to shift responsibility for the security breakdown onto Russia’s stooges in Donetsk.
Russian mobile phone use by personnel entering the structure was discovered by Ukrainian forces, according to local security authorities quoted by Tass news agency as the reason for the strike.