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Russia Lays Blame With Fallen Troops Over Use Of Cell Phone As Ukraine Rebuffs Claim

Amid anger in Russia over a deadly New Year’s Day strike in Makiivka on Moscow’s forces, official blame has fallen on the targeted soldiers themselves, with the suggestion that their cellphone use enabled Ukrainian forces to home in on their location using intercepted calls. The troops were using the phones despite a ban, the Russian Ministry of Defense said. Russian soldiers’ use of open cellphone lines in Ukraine has been a known vulnerability for its military, often revealing forces’ positions. Intercepted calls have revealed the disarray and discontent in Russia’s ranks. Some Russian lawmakers and military bloggers pushed back against the blame, calling it an attempt by the military to avoid faulting commanders. The British Defense Ministry said that the attack had showed how “unprofessional practices contribute to Russia’s high casualty rate,” noting the possibility that ammunition had been stored near the makeshift barracks, creating secondary explosions, contributing to the damage.
The strike by Ukraine in Makiivka, using U.S.-supplied guided rockets, hit a vocational school that Russian soldiers had been using as a barracks. Estimates of the number of casualties range from 89, according to the Russian Defense Ministry, to “about 400,” according to the Ukrainian military. The claims could not be independently verified.

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