Ukraine’s military has rejected Russia’s claim that it carried out a “retaliatory” missile attack on Sunday that killed 600 Ukrainian servicemen stationed in Kramatorsk in the hotly contested Donetsk region.
Serhiy Chervaty, a spokesman for Ukrainian forces in the east, told the Associated Press that the missiles damaged civilian infrastructure, but that “Ukrainian armed forces were not affected.”
Earlier, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Lieutenant-General Igor Konashenkov said that Russian intelligence “reliably discovered and confirmed” through multiple independent channels the locations of some temporary bases of Ukrainian soldiers in Kramatorsk.
“As a result of a massive missile strike on these temporary bases of Ukrainian units, more than 600 Ukrainian soldiers were killed,” he said.
The ministry said the attack was in retaliation for Ukraine’s attack a week ago on buildings housing Russian soldiers in Makievka, 60 miles south of Kramatorsk. The Kremlin said that strike killed 89 Russian soldiers. Ukrainian authorities estimated that the death toll was much higher.
Sunday’s missile strike came hours after the end of a 36-hour unilateral ceasefire ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin to mark Russian Orthodox Christmas.
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The British Ministry of Defense said that Russia is working to strengthen its fortifications in Zaporizhia, fearing that a major Ukrainian penetration in the southeastern region will seriously challenge the possibility of continuing the Russian “land bridge” in Russia and Crimea. In its latest assessment of the war, the ministry says the Russians are concerned that Ukrainian success in the Luhansk region would undermine the Kremlin’s stated war goal of “liberating” the Donbass.
“Determining which of these threats to prioritize to address is likely to be one of the central dilemmas of Russia’s operational planning,” the assessment says.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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