Kabul: Russia says Ukrainian forces have killed 89 Russian troops in a missile strike in the Donetsk region, blaming the deadly attack on the illegal use of mobile phones by its soldiers.
Lieutenant General Sergey Sevryukov made the remarks in a video statement released by Russia’s Defense Ministry on Wednesday, following a strike on a school that was converted into military quarters in the Russian-controlled city of Makiivka in Donetsk.
“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,” Sevryukov said.
“This factor allowed the enemy to track and determine the coordinates of the soldiers’ location for a missile strike,” he added.
Sevryukov further noted that a commission was investigating the circumstances of the attack, adding that measures were being taken to ensure such incidents would not happen in the future.
Russia’s Defense Ministry had already said that four rockets from the US-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) had been used in the attack.
The attack caused anger among Russian lawmakers, who called for revenge against Ukraine and its US-led NATO supporters.
Russia had previously announced that 63 Russian troops had been killed in the attack, which was carried out just after midnight on New Year’s Day, but it raised the death toll after additional bodies were found under the rubble.
Ukraine claimed responsibility for the strike on Russian forces late on Monday. Ukraine’s Defense Ministry claimed that as many as 400 Russians had been killed.