Ukraine hits Russian forces with HIMARS missiles as they wait in the field: reports

An M142 HIMARS aircraft fires a missile in the direction of Bakhmut on May 18, 2023 in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine.
Photo by Serhiy Mikhalchuk/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images

  • A Ukrainian HIMARS airstrike killed at least 60 Russian soldiers gathered in an open field, the BBC reported.
  • The forces were waiting for a senior commander when the missile attack occurred.
  • Russia has repeatedly flouted simple military operations, with deadly results.

A Ukrainian HIMARS airstrike killed at least 60 Russian soldiers gathered en masse in an open field this week, violating a key wartime rule that Russia has repeatedly ignored throughout the war, according to reports and video footage.

The Russian battalion was gathered in a training area near the village of Trudovsky in occupied eastern Ukraine when the two missiles landed. BBC reported Wednesday.

Sources familiar with the incident told the outlet that soldiers had gathered to await the arrival of a senior commander.

Alexander Osipov, the acting regional governor of the neighboring Transbaikalia region, confirmed the raid on Tuesday Share TelegramProviding details about the missile attack and information to family members of the soldiers.

Osipov identified the 36th Motorized Rifle Battalion as the affected battalion, but said information about the death toll and details were “largely exaggerated.”

Graph video Footage of the aftermath of the raid was shared online by Yaroslav Trofimov, The Wall Street Journal's chief foreign affairs correspondent showed dozens of bodies in open fields.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported that additional video footage and estimates provided by soldiers who survived the raid indicate that the death toll reaches at least 60 people. The surviving forces also said in a video clip seen by the channel that their commanders forced them to stand in the open field.

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Reports carried by the BBC said that the men were waiting for Major General Oleg Moiseyev, commander of the 29th Army in the Eastern Military District.

The Ukrainian attack occurred just hours before Russian President Vladimir Putin and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu were to meet to celebrate military victories in a televised appearance.

Ukraine has not yet commented on the attack, but the BBC reported that a US-made HIMARS launch system was used to launch the two missiles.

This is not the first time that Russia has challenged simple military operations that lead to deadly results.

In August, Ukraine said it launched a HIMARS attack on five Russian units gathered on the beach, killing 200 people and destroying equipment.

“Massing your forces within striking range of the Ukrainians is unwise,” Simon Miles, an assistant professor at Duke University's Sanford School of Public Policy and a historian of the Soviet Union and US-Soviet relations, told Business Insider at the time.

Russian military commanders faced similar criticism in June after reports emerged that a large Russian force had bombed a position near the front. Some accounts at the time suggest that the troops were assembled to await an impassioned speech by the general before a dangerous mission.

Ukraine came under criticism in November after a similar scenario in which 19 soldiers were killed by Russian missiles at an outdoor awards ceremony near the front line.

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