Russia's Ministry of Defence has claimed 600 Ukrainian troops were killed in Kramatorsk on Jan. 8, calling it a "revenge operation" for a Ukrainian attack thought to have killed hundreds of mobilized Russian troops in the Russian-occupied town of Makiyivka.
The Russian ministry gave no evidence for its claim, and the Ukrainian Armed Forces has denied that the so-called “revenge operation” even happened.
The Russian ministry on Jan. 8 claimed it had located temporary positions of Ukrainian troops in two college dormitories in Kramatorsk city in Donetsk Oblast.
"There were over 700 Ukrainian troops in one of them and over 600 in the other," the message reads. They also wrote about "missile strikes" on them.
Serhiy Cherevaty, a spokesman for the Ukrainian army, commenting on these claims to Suspilne TV, said they were untrue. The Russians are not capable of highly precise strikes, he said, and speculated that the Russians were simply carrying out “an information operation.”
"This information is no more true than their claims of all our HIMARS being destroyed,” Cherevaty said.
Russia has made many claims to have destroyed Ukrainian HIMARS precision rocket systems — so many, in fact, that the number of systems Russia claims to have destroyed is more than the number actually supplied to Ukraine.
“This is an information operation of Russia's Ministry of Defense in response to the successful actions of the Ukrainian Army in eliminating large concentrations of personnel, their warehouses, logistics with our high-precision destruction systems. They have no such capability," Cherevaty went on.
The mayor of Kramatorsk, Oleksandr Honcharenko, confirmed that there had been a Russian missile strike against the city on Jan. 8 overnight. He said two educational facilities, eight residential buildings and garages were damaged, but luckily no deaths or injuries had been reported.
Reuters’ journalists visited the two college dormitories the Russian Defense Ministry had mentioned, neither of which had been seriously damaged by the missile attacks.
"There were no obvious signs that soldiers had been living there, and no sign of bodies or traces of blood," the news agency wrote.
Earlier, on New Year's Eve, Ukraine's military hit a college building in Makiyivka housing mobilized Russian troops.
Russian Igor Girkin, a military blogger convicted of mass murder of the passengers and crew of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, claimed hundreds of Russian troops were eliminated as a result of the strike. The massive losses were caused by the detonation of ammunition stored in the same buildings, he said. The ammunition detonated after the building was hit by HIMARS rockets.
The Russian Ministry of Defence confirmed the death of 89 troops in the Ukrainian attack, and said the mass use of mobile phones by the soldiers was to blame for their deaths, as this had allowed Ukraine to establish their location.
Cherevaty called the Russian version of events ridiculous. He said the Russians had failed to hide the location of the ammunition stores that Ukraine had attacked.