More than a hundred Russian soldiers may have been killed by a Ukrainian Himars strike after they were ordered to wait in large numbers to listen to a general’s speech, Russian sources have said.
The Russian Ministry of Defence has not commented on the reported attack, which bloggers connected to the Russian military said occurred near the front line in the Luhansk region on Wednesday morning,
“Near Kremenna a tragic incident took place in one of the divisions mustered there for an offensive. People stood in a crowd for two hours in one place and waited for the divisional commander to give his motivational speech,” reported Rybar, a war blog with close links to the Russian military.
The crowd was hit by “Ukrainian Himars and artillery” before the general showed up, Rybar reported.
Kremenna is the Russian spelling for the Ukrainian town of Kreminna. It is currently held by Russia but is less than ten miles behind the frontline, putting it well within the range of larger artillery systems.
Several military Telegram channels blamed Maj Gen Zurab Akhmedov, the commander of the 20th combined arms army, for the disaster, but did not provide specific evidence.
Maj Gen Akhmedov was last year accused by Russian marines of using them as “cannon fodder” during a poorly planned attack that they said cost 300 lives.
The Russian Ministry of Defence at the time denied the 155 Marine Infantry, whose men wrote an open letter accusing the general of incompetence, had suffered heavy losses.
The exact number of casualties is not yet clear, but some suggested more died there than in several days of recent fighting on the southern front, where Ukraine is mounting a large counter-offensive.
If confirmed, that would make it the worst single casualty incident suffered by Russian forces since a Himars strike on a school being used as a barracks near Donetsk on New Year’s Eve.
High-precision Himars strikes on Russian positions have dropped off in recent months after the Kremlin developed electronic warfare methods to jam the rockets’ guidance systems.
The attack on Kremmina may signal that Ukraine has succeeded in reprogramming the rockets to overcome those measures.