According to authorities, a “significant number” of Russian soldiers were killed on New Year’s Eve when Ukrainian forces shelled a building housing recruits in an occupied part of the country.
A “vocational school” in the city of Makiivka came under US-supplied HIMARS artillery, according to Daniil Bezsonov, a senior Russian-backed official in occupied Donetsk in the east of the country, adding that the building housed Russian military personnel. .
“A significant number of dead and injured,” Bezsonov said in a Telegram. to post Sunday night.
Russian state news agency TASS on Monday reported that 63 had died, citing the Defense Ministry.
While Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the attack, its military released a cryptic message on Telegram on Sunday evening: “As a result of ‘careless handling of heating devices’, neglecting security measures and smoking in an unspecified location, Santa Claus packed around 400 corpses of Russian servicemen in bags.”
“About 300 more have injuries of varying degrees of severity,” the account added.
NBC News was unable to verify either party’s claims, and Russian and Ukrainian officials were not immediately available for comment.
On Sunday, the leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Denis Pushilin, said many civilian facilities had come under Ukrainian fire on New Year’s Eve, according to TASS.
Bezsonov criticized the “crowded deployment of personnel”, which he said helped cause the casualties.
Russian forces have also been hitting cities in Ukraine in recent days, launching missile and drone attacks on key civilian infrastructure.
Overnight, the capital Kyiv was attacked by Iranian-made drones. Mayor Vitali Klitschko said 22 were destroyed in Kyiv, three in the Kyiv outlying region and 15 in neighboring provinces.
“As a result of the night shelling of the capital, energy infrastructure facilities were damaged. There are emergency power outages in the city,” Klitschko said Sunday night in a Telegram. to post.
Power infrastructure facilities were damaged as a result of the attack and an explosion occurred in a district of the city, the mayor said. It was not immediately clear if that was caused by drones or other munitions. An injured 19-year-old man was hospitalized, Klitschko added, and emergency power outages were underway in the capital.
Since October, Russia has carried out airstrikes against power and water supplies almost every week.
Anastasiia Parafeniuk, Artem Grudinin Y Associated Press contributed.