Deadly strike on Russians in Ukraine exposes Moscow’s military failings.

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In one of their deadliest attacks yet on Russian forces, Ukrainians used American-made rockets to kill dozens — and perhaps hundreds — of Moscow’s troops in a New Year’s Day strike behind the lines, prompting outraged Russian war hawks to accuse their military of lethal incompetence.

The strike by the HIMARS rockets killed 63 Russian soldiers in a building housing them in the occupied city of Makiivka, in eastern Ukraine, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Monday — an unusual admission for a military that has often refused to acknowledge serious losses. A former Russian paramilitary commander in Ukraine, Igor Girkin, wrote on the Telegram app that “many hundreds” were dead and wounded and that many “remained under the rubble.”

Ukrainian military officials said it appeared that “about 400” Russian troops had been killed, though they did not explicitly say that Kyiv was behind the attack.

None of the claims could be independently verified, but even the lowest number would represent one of the worst Russian losses in a single episode in the war, and an embarrassment for President Vladimir V. Putin. He has vowed repeatedly to correct the glaring errors and weaknesses in his armed forces that the war has exposed, and in a New Year’s Eve speech filmed at a military base, Mr. Putin told the families of soldiers killed in the fighting, “I share your pain with all my heart.”

Pro-war Russian bloggers and some government officials said the debacle was caused by the military’s own repeated and costly mistakes, like garrisoning troops in a dense concentration within range of Ukrainian artillery, placing them in the same building as an ammunition depot, and allowing them to use cellphones, whose signals the Ukrainians can use to zero in on their target.

Some pro-war lawmakers demanded an investigation, and one of them, Sergei Mironov, leader of a pro-Kremlin party in the Parliament, called for the prosecution of all officials responsible, “whether they wear epaulets or not.”

Sumber: www.nytimes.com

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