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Russia Facing 'Mass Casualties' from Ukrainian Strikes Behind Lines, UK Ministry Says

Servicemen of the 12th Special Forces Brigade Azov of the National Guard of Ukraine prepare to fire from a howitzer LH-70 towards Russian troops at a position near a frontline, Ukraine, Nov. 22, 2023.
Servicemen of the 12th Special Forces Brigade Azov of the National Guard of Ukraine prepare to fire from a howitzer LH-70 towards Russian troops at a position near a frontline, Ukraine, Nov. 22, 2023.

Russia continues to face “mass casualties from Ukrainian long-range precision strikes well behind the front line” the British Defense Ministry said Friday in its daily intelligence update on the war.

The ministry said that on November 10, more than 70 Russian troops were probably killed in a strike on a truck convoy 23 kilometers behind the front line in Hladkivka, a village in Kherson oblast. Then, the ministry said, a November 19 strike on an award ceremony or concert in Kumachove, 60 kilometers behind the lines, probably caused “tens” of casualties.

Ukraine, though, has suffered similar casualties, the update said, adding that a Russian missile killed 19 members of a Ukrainian brigade at a medal ceremony November 3.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian senior officials and soldiers said Thursday that Russia, which had bombarded the eastern city of Avdiivka for weeks, is now sending waves of troops toward the destroyed but strategically important spot in eastern Ukraine and is suffering terrible losses.

"The fields are just littered with corpses," Oleksandr, (one name) a deputy of a Ukrainian battalion in the 47th mechanized brigade, told Agence France-Presse.

"They are trying to exhaust our lines with constant waves of attacks," he said. He did not provide his full name for security reasons.

It is a strategy similar to the one Russia used against Bakhmut, a city it eventually captured.

Since mid-October, Russia has been trying to wrest the small city from Ukraine with no success, the Ukrainians say. The city sits on the front line 5 kilometers from Donetsk, the Russian-controlled capital of the region, one of four regions Moscow said it annexed from Ukraine.

Russia-backed separatists captured Avdiivka in 2014 and held it briefly before Ukrainian forces took it back and have been fortifying it ever since.

About 1,400 residents remain of the city’s prewar population of 32,000, said Vitaliy Barabash, head of Avdiivka's military administration, who described the Russian onslaught as fierce.

"As regards the city, there is an average number of eight to 16 to 18 air attacks per day. Sometimes 30. We don't have time to count them," Barabash told Channel 24 television on Thursday. Russian reports on the war rarely mention Avdiivka.

Reuters could not independently verify battle reports from either side.

Earlier Thursday, four people were killed and five were wounded in Russian shelling in Ukraine’s southern region of Kherson, Ukrainian officials said.

Ukrainian Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said more than 60 residential and infrastructure buildings also were damaged in the attack.

“It is preliminarily known that the shelling was carried out with cluster munitions,” Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukraine’s presidential office, said on Telegram. VOA could not independently verify that report.

The Russian army abandoned Kherson late last year but still regularly targets the area from the eastern bank of the Dnipro River.

Meanwhile, Russian state television said Thursday one of its journalists died after being hurt in a Ukrainian drone attack in the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia region of southern Ukraine.

The Russian network announced the death of Boris Maksudov a day after the Russian defense ministry said he was hit while working in Zaporizhzhia.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy used part of his nightly address Wednesday to highlight new military aid packages from allies that he said include help for his country’s air defenses.

Zelenskyy said the aid would better protect Ukraine’s cities and towns from Russian attacks and that “Ukraine’s sky shield is getting more powerful literally every month.”

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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