The Ukrainian military said Wednesday the use of cell phones by Russian troops was not the main reason their position was located in Makiivka, leading to a devastating strike in the eastern Donetsk region.
“Of course, using phones with geolocation is a mistake. But it is clear that this version looks a bit ridiculous,” according to the spokesman for the Eastern Group of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Serhii Cherevatyi.
The Russian Ministry of Defense on Wednesday appeared to blame the soldiers themselves for the Ukrainian strike, saying that “the main cause” of the incident was the widespread use of cell phones by Russian soldiers “contrary to the ban,” allowing Ukraine to “track and determine the coordinates of the soldiers’ locations.” Russia also revised its estimate of soldiers killed, from 63 to 89.
Cherevatyi said “to deploy such large batches of newly mobilized — which means not very trained, not very coordinated — people in large rooms unsuitable for sheltering in case of danger, is a very weak excuse.”
“Of course, this is a mistake [of the Russians], and I think that now they are engaged in [searching for] who is to blame. They are putting the blame on each other,” he continued.
“It is clear that this [use of phones] was not the main reason. The main reason was that they were unable to covertly deploy these personnel. And we took advantage of that, having detected the target powerfully and destroyed it,” Cherevatyi added.
Four rockets from US-made HIMARS launchers were used in the strike in Makiivka, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense.
The Ukrainian military has claimed up to around 400 Russian soldiers died in the strike, but later added the number was “being clarified.”
CNN cannot independently verify either figure.
4 hr 51 min ago
Governor of southwestern Russian region holds talks in Moscow following servicemen deaths in Makiivka strike
From CNN’s Radina Gigova
Dmitry Azarov, the acting governor of Samara region, speaks inside the Samara Arena stadium in Samara, Russia, on May 6, 2018.
Dmitry Azarov, the acting governor of Samara region, speaks inside the Samara Arena stadium in Samara, Russia, on May 6, 2018. (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)
The governor of Russia’s southwestern Samara region held talks in Moscow on Tuesday with the leadership of the Russian Defense Ministry, after dozens of Russian military deaths in the city of Makiivka in the Donetsk region, according to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.
Some of the servicemen, who died in the strike that took place just after midnight on Sunday at a vocational school housing Russian conscripts, were mobilized from Samara region, according to RIA Novosti, quoting the Samara region Gov. Dmitry Azarov.
The Russian Defense Ministry has said 89 servicemen were killed in the strike. The Ukrainian military initially claimed up to around 400 Russian soldiers were killed, later adding that the number was “being clarified.”
CNN cannot independently verify either side’s reported death toll. In either case, the strike marks one of the deadliest episodes of the conflict for Moscow’s forces.
Azarov agreed on “full coordination with the actions of the Ministry of Defense and the region,” the agency reported.
Issues related to medical care for servicemen mobilized from the territory of Samara region, additional uniforms and other issues “have been worked out,” according to RIA Novosti.
“Verified official data is very important now. As information becomes available on each serviceman, we will bring information to relatives and friends,” Azarov said, according to RIA Novosti, quoting the regional press service.
On Wednesday, Azarov plans to visit wounded servicemen from Samara at a regional hospital in the city of Rostov-on-Don, the state media agency said.
Ceremonies for the dead: Residents in the city of Samara held a mourning ceremony on Tuesday for the Russian servicemen killed in Makiivka. Residents gathered at Glory Square in Samara attended a memorial service and observed a moment of silence in memory of the soldiers, after which they laid flowers at the eternal flame, the agency said.
“For three days I haven’t slept and the city of Samara hasn’t slept. We are constantly in touch with the wives of our guys. It’s very hard and scary. But it will not break us. Grief unites us … We will not forgive and definitely we will win,” said Ekaterina Kolotovkina, chair of the women’s council of a local military battalion, according to RIA Novosti.
A memorial ceremony also took place in the neighboring city of Togliatti, where members of the military, representatives of veteran and public organizations, and residents had gathered in the city’s Victory Park, the agency reported.
HIMARS missile strike in Ukraine’s Donetsk caused by use of mobile phones: Russia
Russia said early on Wednesday that the main reason for the missile strikes by US-made HIMARS multiple rocket launchers on a deployment area near the city of Makiivka in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region was the mass use of mobile phones by military personnel despite a ban, according to Anadolu Agency.
Currently, a commission is working to investigate the circumstances of the incident. But it is already obvious that the main reason for what happened was the inclusion and massive use of mobile phones by personnel in the reach of enemy weapons, contrary to its ban,” a statement by the Russian Defense Ministry on Telegram read.
The statement said that this allowed Ukrainian forces to determine the coordinates of the location of military personnel for launching the missile strike.
“Currently, the necessary measures are being taken to prevent similar tragic incidents in the future. As a result of the investigation, the guilty officials will be brought to justice,” the statement added.
It also said the registered death toll from the missile strike rose to 89 following an analysis of the explosion site.
“During the analysis of the rubble of reinforced concrete structures, the number of our comrades who died increased to 89,” the statement said.