A Ukrainian regional governor in the war-torn east of the country said up to 100 Russian soldiers could have died in an explosion in the recently occupied city of Lysychansk.
Serhiy Gaidai, head of the Ukrainian administrative district of Luhansk, provided some details about the explosion in an interview with Radio Liberty on Tuesday. His remarks come amid reports of continuing morale problems among Russian forces despite recent victories in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine.
Gaidai told the media that Russian troops were carrying out a major offensive from the side of an oil refinery and suggested that “a few careless smokers” may have caused the deadly explosion in Lysychansk, which Russia claimed last month to have “liberated” as the last major recalcitrant in the administrative district of Lugansk.
The soldiers killed were no longer part of Wagner PMC, a Kremlin-aligned private military company, but part of the Russian regular army, he said.
The Kremlin originally planned to quickly take Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, after launching its invasion of the country on February 24. But in the face of unexpected resistance from the Ukrainian military, Russia turned its attention to eastern Ukraine, home to a large population of Russian speakers as well as two Kremlin-aligned separatist groups.
Russian forces achieved success earlier this summer as it should Severodonetsk, a strategically critical city in the east of the country as Ukrainian forces made a strategic withdrawal.
Despite the losses, a poll by the International Republican Institute of Ukrainians released last week found that nearly two-thirds of respondents believed that their country would regain its internationally recognized borders, including in Russian-occupied Donbass and Crimea. That’s up from 53 percent in April.
The Institute for the Study of War, an American think tank, published research On Monday, reports that separatist militias in Luhansk refuse to fight in the neighboring administrative district of Donetsk, complain about the frenetic pace of the crime.
“This trend is particularly dangerous for Russian forces seeking to recruit even more new soldiers from Luhansk Oblast to compensate for recent losses,” researchers at the think tank wrote. “Further division within the Russian-led forces also threatens to further hamper the effectiveness of the Russian war effort.”
Gaidai said in a Telegram post on Tuesday that “explosions in warehouses and military bases in the occupied territory of the Luhansk region are occurring more and more often, often due to “Russian negligence”. »
“This greatly reduces the number of artillery fires and makes it difficult for Russian troops to advance deep into Ukraine,” he said.
Newsweek has contacted the Russian government for comment.