Putin’s Military Criticized After Deadliest Ukraine Attack
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
KYIV/MOSCOW (Worthy News) – Russian President Vladimir Putin faced embarrassment Tuesday after one of Ukraine’s deadliest attacks on Russian troops was reportedly caused by the unauthorized use of mobile phones.
Ukraine confirmed it carried out a New Year’s Day strike in the occupied region of Donetsk, which it says killed as many as 400 Russian troops.
Moscow denied those figures, saying some 89 Russian servicemen died in the Ukrainian attack on a military site in the city of Makiivka.
Russia’s Defense Ministry blamed the attack on the unauthorized use of mobile phones by troops.
“It is already obvious that the main reason for what happened was the switching on and massive use – contrary to the prohibition – by personnel of mobile phones in a reach zone of enemy weapons,” the ministry said in published remarks.
The announcement came as Russian military leaders faced calls from politicians and on social media for punishment.
Commanders were accused of ignoring clear danger after the Kremlin took the rare step on Monday of admitting to losses in a Ukrainian strike on makeshift barracks.
Military sources linked the many deaths to the storing of ammunition in the same building as barracks despite commanders knowing it was within range of a Ukrainian military backed by munitions from Western nations.
Sergei Mironov, a legislator and former chair of Russia’s upper house, demanded criminal liability for officials who had “allowed the concentration of military personnel in an unprotected building.”
It is unusual for Moscow to confirm any battlefield casualties, and the losses were due to increase pressure on President Putin, who invaded Ukraine last February.
With losses mounting, a patriotic group supporting widows of Russian soldiers reportedly urged Putin to order a large-scale mobilization of millions of men and to close the borders “to ensure victory in Ukraine.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky claims Moscow is planning a full-scale mobilization, a step Russia says is not currently being considered.
The U.S. State Department said Washington had seen reports “that the Ukrainian military struck a Russian military barracks that stored ammunition inside of Ukrainian territory,” leading to many Russian deaths. “We have also read reports that many of these soldiers were new recruits.”
Putin plans to talk to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, the latest in a series of conversations the two men have had.
Turkey acted as a mediator alongside the United Nations last year to strike a deal allowing grain exports from Ukrainian ports. But military observers say chances of serious peace talks look remote as fighting continues to rage in several areas of wartorn Ukraine.
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