Russia blames mobile phones for deaths of 89 troops

Ukrainian armed forces strike large Russian base in Makeevka

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Ukraine’s attack on Makiivka, which caused the death of 89 Russian servicemen, has been blamed on mobile phones being used on the front line, despite it being forbidden. According to the Russian defence ministry, the use of the phones in an area in reach of enemy weapons was the cause of the massacre.

The ministry said in a statement: “It is already obvious that the main reason for what happened was the switching on and massive use – contrary to the prohibition – by personnel of mobile phones in a reach zone of enemy weapons.”

This comes as Moscow has called for military leaders in Ukraine to be tried for war crimes after one of the deadliest attacks launched by Kyiv.

Commanders were accused of having ignored clear danger after the Kremlin in a rare move admitted to losses in a strike on a makeshift barracks.

A Russian nationalist military blogger blamed the deaths on ammunition being stored in the same building as the barracks, even though commanders knew Ukrainian weapons could reach it.

A number of Western countries have provided President Zelensky with extra munitions to help push back against the invasion.

Sergei Mironov, a legislator and former chair of Russia’s upper house demanded punishment for the officials who had “allowed the concentration of military personnel in an unprotected building”.

The attack in Makiivka on New Year’s Eve has been described by the Russians as “stupid losses of personnel”.

Rishi Sunak has vowed to provide Ukraine with extra military support as he said cooperation with President Zelensky would be “intensified”.

The Ukrainian leader tweeted on Tuesday: “We agreed to intensify our efforts to bring victory closer this year already. We already have concrete decisions for this.”

He also warned that his country would be bombarded by Iranian made exploding drones in his latest video address.

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He said: “We have information that Russia is planning a prolonged attack by Shaheds [Iranian-made exploding drones].”

Mr Sunak told the Ukrainian President that he could “count on the UK to continue to support it for the long term” during a call between the two leaders on Tuesday.

The Prime Minister also described the Russian drone attacks on Ukrainian cities as “abhorrent”.

The UK has recently delivered 1,000 surface-to-air missiles to Ukraine to improve its arsenal to fight off Putin’s armies.

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