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Dozens of Russian troops were sitting ducks for a devastating Ukrainian HIMARS missile strike this week. The death toll from the single strike is estimated to be as high as 100, making it one of the more deadly strikes by Ukraine in the course of the war. The Russian forces had gathered together close to the city of to wait for a top general’s motivational speech.
The forces had been waiting for two hours when the deadly strike took place.
They had amassed at a site close to the front and within range of Ukraine’s artillery.
Kreminna lies in the Russian-occupied eastern region of Luhansk, which has been the subject of intense fighting amid Ukraine’s recent counter-offensive.
While the exact death toll has not been verified, the strike was later confirmed by an unnamed Ukrainian official.
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The death toll and humiliating context around the strike sparked outrage in Russia.
Several pro-war Russian nationalist bloggers turned on the country’s military commanders after the reports emerged.
One blogger, Sergey Kolyasnikov, wrote on the popular messaging platform Telegram that the commanders in charge of the devastated unit should be shot.
He posted: “If by the middle of the second year of the war, there are commanders that carry columns to the front and build personnel in one big pile, and then wait for the enemy artillery to strike, then such commanders must be shot before the formation, even if they are colonels or even generals.
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“The Armed Forces of Ukraine have no merit in this war. We are at war with our own stupidity and sloppiness.”
Another blogger Rybar claimed that the casualties in the one strike were higher than in some recent battles.
Rob Lee, an expert on the Russian military with the Foreign Policy Research Institute, shared the news of the strike and furious backlash, tweeting: “Russian Telegram channels are saying that a Russian unit was struck by HIMARS this morning on the Kreminna front with ~100 KIA and ~100 WIA.
“They were reportedly waiting near the front for a speech from a commander for hours.”
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Confirming the strike, an unnamed Ukrainian official told the Kyiv Post: “It’s a really funny situation there. They stood in the open air for two hours listening to the speech.
“That is enough time to fix them, transport the HIMARS, enter the coordinates, and hit them.”
The HIMARS, which are long-range, high-precision rocket launchers, were given to Ukraine by the US, and can hit targets up to 50 miles away.
One expert told Business Insider last year that the HIMARS was a perfect weapon for Ukraine, as Russia’s logistics mean senior commanders often move close to the front.
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