A Ukrainian attack on a building sheltering Russian soldiers in the occupied Donetsk region killed 63 service members on New Year’s Day, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Monday, which would be one of the deadliest strikes on Russian forces since the beginning of the war.
The number of those killed was disputed by Ukrainian military claimed that hundreds of soldiers were killed in the rocket attack, but the figure could not be independently confirmed, according to the New York Times.
Russian authorities said the Ukrainian military used a U.S.-made HIMARS guided rocket system to carry out the attack on a temporary Russian base.
“The Kiev regime struck with six rockets of the U.S.-made HIMARS multiple launch rocket system at the point of temporary deployment of one of the units of the Russian armed forces in the area of the settlement of Makeyevka,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement, according to USA Today.
RIA Novosti, a Russian state-owned media organization, reported that two of the six missiles fired by the Ukrainian military were shot down.
Contrasting reports came in from both Russian and Ukrainian sources. A former Russian paramilitary commander Igor Girkin suggested the attacks were severe.
Girkin said in a post on Telegram, a social media app, that “many hundreds” were dead and wounded, and said the building temporarily housing the Russian troops was “almost completely destroyed.”
The strike on the city of Makiivka continues already intense fighting in the Donetsk region, which is one of the four areas that Russia illegally annexed in October. The reports of the Ukrainian attack comes as Ukraine officials also said Monday it had destroyed 40 exploding Russian drones that were headed for Kyiv overnight.