The Russian military claimed its soldiers' illegal use of cell phones allegedly gave away their location before a deadly missile strike from Ukrainian forces in the ongoing Russia/Ukraine conflict, RadarOnline.com has learned.
Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine saw one of its largest hits to its already weakened forces on New Year's Day when a Ukrainian missile strike killed "hundreds" at a military college.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, four HIMARS missiles launched by Ukrainian forces struck temporary barracks set up for Russian troops in Makiivka, a twin city of Russian-occupied Donetsk, in Eastern Ukraine.
While an official investigation into the attack is underway, Russian Defense Ministry officials claimed the illegal use of cell phones by Russian soldiers was the reason for the successful strike.
"This factor allowed the enemy to track and determine the coordinates of the soldiers' location for a missile strike," claimed the ministry in a statement issued early Wednesday morning.
The Kremlin uncharacteristically acknowledged the increased death toll after the attack — however, their reported numbers remain in stark contrast to those reported by Ukraine officials.
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The Kremlin announced its death toll raised from 63 to 89, the highest number acknowledged by Russia since invading Ukraine in February 2022. Ukraine officials claimed actual death tolls are closer to 400.
With a history of alleged misinformation and government cover-ups, a prominent Russian war correspondent, Semyon Pegov, questioned the ministry's claim behind the attack in a Telegram post.
"The story of mobiles is not very convincing. I rarely say this — but this is the case when it would probably be better to remain silent, at least until the end of the investigation," Pegov claimed. "As such it looks like an outright attempt to smear the blame."
Pegov also warned that the death toll of Russian soldiers will increase far beyond the Kremlin's reported numbers.
"Unfortunately, their number will continue to grow," Pegov continued. "The announced data is most likely for those who were immediately identified."
"The list of the missing, unfortunately, is noticeably longer. I cannot disclose the sources, but I consider them reliable," Pegov added.
The New Year's Day strike came after a growing outpour of backlash towards the Russia/Ukraine war, particularly against Russian leaders rather than Putin himself.
Putin has resorted to shocking means to revive troops, which have been in desperate need of reinforcements as Russia faces financial concerns from the ongoing costly war.