Russian “retaliatory strikes”: the version of Moscow contradicted by the testimonies collected in Ukraine

Russia claimed on Sunday to have killed more than 600 Ukrainian soldiers in Kramatorsk, without specifying the date. But on the spot, no trace of victims or material damage of the importance described by Moscow.

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine is also being played out in the field of information. Moscow claimed on Sunday that it had killed “more than 600 Ukrainian soldiersafter carrying out strikes on military barracks in Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine.

Moscow spoke of a “retaliatory strike” to the Ukrainian bombardment that killed at least 89 Russian soldiers on January 1. But the veracity of the Ukrainian losses claimed by Moscow raises questions.

Strikes heard by Kramatorsk residents

Blown windows and craters are clearly visible in Kramatorsk, in eastern Ukraine, where the Russian army says it carried out its missile strikes, BFMTV saw on the spot.

The windows of a blown building in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, January 8, 2023
The windows of a blown building in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, January 8, 2023 © BFMTV

Vasyle, a resident of the city, confirms to our camera that he heard knocks in the night from Saturday to Sunday.

“There were strong explosions in the evening, the windows were shaking,” he testifies.

Ukrainian local authorities confirm for their part that seven rockets fell on Kramatorsk. Two other rockets targeted the nearby town of Kostiantynivka.

This damage, however, seems far from that claimed by Russia. “In response to the kyiv regime’s criminal strike in the first minutes of January 2023 (…), Russian forces carried out a retaliatory operation. More than 600 Ukrainian soldiers were killed,” the spokesperson said on Sunday. of the Russian Defense Ministry.

No trace of victims

On the spot, no trace either of victims. It is impossible to confirm that the military barracks that Moscow claims to have targeted are indeed military installations. The inhabitants of Kramatorsk crossed by our team do not seem worried or disturbed by these strikes either.

“There was a series of explosions,” admits one of them, named Mykhaïlo. “There’s really nothing more to say, just a normal day,” he adds, however.

Ukraine rejects Russian claims

After Russia claimed on Sunday that it had killed several hundred Ukrainian soldiers, a Ukrainian military official denied the “retaliatory strikes”.

kyiv claims that no casualties were recorded in the shots that hit Kramatorsk and that no military barracks were even hit by a Russian strike in this city.

“Russian troops do not have the ability to deliver high-precision strikes,” a spokesman for the Ukrainian army’s eastern command, Serguiy Tcherevaty, told the media. suspension.

He denounces a simple Russian “communication operation” intended to reassure its population and respond to criticism.

“A battle of press releases”

“We are in a battle of press releases”, analyzes for BFMTV General Vincent Desportes, former director of the School of War and professor of strategy at Sciences Po and HEC. “The basis, in a war, is that all communication is political. We know that the first victim of war is the truth”, he develops.

Extremely rare, Russia admitted having suffered significant losses against Ukrainian troops and having lost 89 soldiers in a strike carried out on January 1st. According to international journalists and the Ukrainian authorities, however, this figure is underestimated. They report for their part several hundred dead.

Russian “retaliatory strikes”: the version of Moscow contradicted by the testimonies collected in Ukraine