Russia’s Defense Ministry said Wednesday that 89 Russian soldiers were killed in the Ukrainian HIMARS strike on a facility housing Russian troops in Donetsk that took place on January 1, raising the death toll from 63.
“The first medical aid was provided; wounded individuals were evacuated to medical institutions. Regrettably, the death toll of our comrades increased to 89 when removing structural steel debris,” the Russian Defense Ministry said, according to the Russian news agency TASS.
Ukraine fired six missiles from the US-provided HIMARS rocket systems, and Russia said four struck a school that was being used to house troops in the city of Makeyevka. A Russian military official blamed the massive death toll on Russian soldiers using their phones.
“It has already become obvious at present that the main cause of the occurrence was activation and large-scale use, contrary to the ban, of personal phones by personnel within the reach of enemy’s destruction means,” said Lt. Gen. Sergey Sevryukov, the deputy head of a political department of the Russian Armed Forces.
Sevryukov said that the cell phone use “enabled the enemy to take the bearing and determine coordinates of servicemen location to deliver a missile strike.” It’s possible the US could have provided Ukraine with intelligence to carry out the strike, as Washington has been sharing information with Kyiv to help its fight against Russia.
28 thoughts on “Death Toll in Ukraine HIMARS Strike on Russian Soldiers in Donetsk Rises to 89”
How stupid do you have to be to use your cell phone in a combat area?
By the time cell phones were common personal possessions (instead of expensive, bulky unreliable things), I was out of the Marine Corps.
But I just cannot fathom the idea that troops would be allowed to carry individual personal tracking devices, with multiple features that inherently compromise operational security into a combat zone.
Obviously, quite a few would be smuggled, and they would remain something of a problem. But I’ve talked to guys who had their f*cking iPhones with them in remote parts of Afghanistan, just because they could, and never thought twice about it. The Russian and Ukrainian forces are both presumably better equipped than the Taliban were when it comes to tracking cell phone emissions/location data.
OTOH they don’t seem to have any other means of communication, no radios so now what?
We had cellphones in Afghanistan, but the only ones that got proper service out there were the Roshan phones (with the Afghan Sim cards), making them indistinguishable from the Roshan phones regular Afghans used (it also helped the Taliban did not have NATO’s level of electronic tracking. Then again most of them could figure out where the American bases were located by the Hesco barriers and US Flags so it was a moot point.) But with the war so close to Russia’s border, their Russian phones with Russian Sim cards still operate.
In the areas of the Donbas that have been under DPR/LPR/Russian control for significant lengths of time, the cellular networks are also under the control of those entities.
It really would be trivial for competent and properly equipped signals intelligence operators to pinpoint a group of celebrating Russian troops sharing New Year greetings and selfies from the front with family back home.
In my opinion, That place was most likely spotted days before and was under surveillance to confirm the target and potential collateral damage. Definitely was under observation of drones, Ukrainian network (humans), and other assets. Targeting it during new year’s was very likely a statement and a way to have better fires effect thus increasing casualties. Not a result of a short noticed target opportunity/confirmation.
You may well be right. The subject here is cell phone use and its detection, which is entirely compatible with your view.
Noted. My point was that the use of cellphones by the Russians was not the lead reason why they were spotted on new years. IMO. I could be wrong.
Cellphones have been prohibited for Russian troops in combat areas for a long time. If they were being used at a New Year party near the front, it was a serious violation of regulations. And truly stupid.
I don’t know what Ukraine’s ability to locate and identify, from a distance, cellphone transmissions may be, but I do know that it’s almost trivial for, e.g., US AWACS operations and Russian equivalents. Find a cluster of obviously-Russian phones pinging cellsites and you’ve found a concentration of Russians.
I don’t know what Ukrainian regulations may be in effect, but I do know that cellphone videos that appear to be, and are claimed to be, recorded by Ukrainian troops in combat are fairly common on social media platforms such as Telegram.
Soldiers will always be soldiers and do stupid things. We used them in Afghanistan, Iraq and other locations all the time and some are still using them sometimes. It was not so much of an issue few years ago but now, anybody can track you and listen to your calls.
Many of the mobilized soldiers will not care to use a phone as they know their days are numbered and would like to talk to their love ones a few more times. Same goes to Ukrainians but they just happened to be a bit more disciplined with their communication protocols plus the Russians apparently have a lack of tactical signal intelligence in the frontlines.
Satellite or a bunch of young soldiers calling home on cell phones on the biggest holiday in Russia. It’s a war zone treat it like a war zone.
1. Disperse the troops and prohibit large social gatherings even for New Year’s eve and Orthodox Christmas on 7 January.
2. Prohibit the use of cell phones in a combat zone.
3. Do not store ammunition where troops are housed.
4. It is time to eliminate the Ukrainian government just like America would do.
5. It is time to thrust south from Belarus cutting all supply lines from Poland to Kiev.
“It’s possible the US could have provided Ukraine with intelligence to carry out the strike, as Washington” Bwahahahahaha! Possible? Wow! It is very probable that we have indeed provided intelligence.
Or also very likely that the thousands and thousands of Ukrainians living in Russian controlled territory have an actual cell phone network as well as other means and communicate with each other the positions of Russian soldiers, equipment, and ammo locations.
This is the LEAST likely. Any Ukrainians that did not want to live in Russian controlled regions — left. Nobody is stopping them. People that remain are Russian speakers who could not wait to get away from Kuev rule, Not likely candidates.
But it makes total sense that US is providing intellugence on targeting. US is in war here, back to Obama years, leading from behind.
“Any Ukrainians that did not want to live in Russian controlled regions — left.”
Yes, because most of them were rich Ukrainian people that could afford to leave their houses and everything behind and buy new homes in the West just like in Kherson city.
If you think that all Ukrainians living in Russian stolen land love Putin, you are in for big surprise.
Makiivka has been under DPR control since 2014. The people you imagine, bizarrely, have “stolen” it are the people who live there.
There has been plenty of time and opportunity for people who don’t want to live there to leave.
yep, the Russia sponsored separatists that took arms to resist the government after receiving guarantees from Putin that he would support them with all instruments of power but not because Putin loved them but because Putin wanted the oil, gas, and grain rich land (plus the corridor to solve the logistical issue in Crimea).
The normal people from Donbas are no wishing things were they way they were before 2014. And if you think Pro Ukraine people don’t live in Donbas, then you need to check demographics. Many left, yes, but many stayed and not because they wanted to be part of Russia rather because they had nowhere else to go. No place in Ukraine with the exception of Crimea is majority Russian.
You live in a fantasy world, Don. You and your fellow fantasists are blindly and ignorantly supporting policies and actions that have already resulted in many tens of thousands of Ukrainians killed and injured, and driven perhaps a third of the nation’s population from their homes as refugees. And if those policies and behaviors continue, it’s likely to get even worse.
Yes, you are right. Once a country fractures, there is no way back. Kiev wanted Ukraine to stop being bi-lingual state, and Russian speaking areas were to comply. If not, deprived of jobs, prosecuted, without any political representation. Also, those that could, left everything behind to luve in Russia.
Until Russia annexed four areas. Now, it is Ukrainians that dis not want to live in Russia that left.
This is a simple lesson -/ governments should never take sides and give precerence to one religion, language or culture. Such deiberate decisions are based on an assumption that the targeted group is too weak and will have to yield: go or assimilate. Or, worse, based on assumtion that Russia would be forced to intervene militarily, weakening its commercial, diplomatic and military capacity.
But the outcome is – the country will split. If one side always tries to subjugate other — there is no chance of amicable cohabitation.
This is the entire point. Western Ukraine isn’t interested in the people in the east – only in their resources. It’s all about the land. Kiev doesn’t give a crap about the humans who live there.
There was already an article about the CIA sending sleeper cells to Russia. It was only a week or so ago, but we are supposed to forget.
Of course. Ukraine has very limited targetting cqpability. To be this precise required some intelligence sharing.
I’m betting on the Americans. After all, we’re the sponsor of this clusterf*ck.
Well, one would presume – even hope – that IF they were tracked because of cell phone use, the survivors will be discouraged from repeating the error.
However, I’m not convinced based on a single set of reports, that the location wasn’t provided by US personnel or Ukrainian spies in the area.
One would think that all of the cellphone towers in Donetsk would be fully controlled by the Donetsk People’s Republic. Unless Kyev has a way to eavesdrop, I’m not sure how they could distinguish one type of caller from another in a densely populated area. So, I am inclined to agree with you. Human intelligence seems the most likely culprit.
That said, somebody will likely be held accountable for concentrating so much military value in a location that can be reached by the HIMARS.
Human intelligence is certainly one of the primary possibilities, but:
– Presumably DPR no longer exists, its former territory having been annexed by the Russian Federation;
– Russian forces don’t control all of Donetsk at the moment;
– Even if all cell towers are under Russian (or DPR, if that’s still a thing) control, which seems unlikely, the Ukrainians almost certainly have IMSI-catchers, radio emission detectors and locators, etc.
It could have been as simple as “there’s quite a bit of cellular activity in that area, and it seems to be using a particular cell network that we associate with Russian, rather than Ukrainian, users.”
I’m betting the US agents in the area have access to all that capability as well.
I am guessing they would have some way to tell by the phones making use of Russian Sim cards (as opposed to Ukrainian Sim cards that residents of the region, regardless of whether they considered themselves Russian or not, would have). I am by no means an expert on the subject, though
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