President Volodymyr Zelensky revealed Monday that Ukraine suffered its worst military loss from a single attack when a Russian missile strike on a barracks killed 87 soldiers.
“Today we completed work at Desna. In Desna, under the rubble, there were 87 casualties. Eighty-seven corpses,” Zelensky said during a speech by video link to business leaders in Davos, Switzerland.
The death toll is a dramatic jump from last week when Kyiv confirmed that eight people died in the May 17 attack targeting the barracks at a training base in Desna in the north.
The disclosure demonstrated Russia’s ability to inflict huge losses, even far from the front in the east.
Moscow had said at the time that it hit a training base with long-range missiles. The new death toll Zelensky announced Monday was more than double the number killed in a similar attack on a Ukrainian training base in Yaraviv in the west in March.
“History is at a turning point … This is really the moment when it is decided whether brute force will rule the world,” Zelensky said in his address, calling for more economic sanctions on Russia.
“The sanctions should be maximum, so that Russia — and every other potential aggressor who wants to wage a brutal war against its neighbor — clearly knows the immediate consequences of their actions,” he told the Davos meeting.
In his address, Zelensky demanded an oil embargo, the blockage of all Russian banks and termination of all trade. Foreign businesses should withdraw completely from Russia and the Russian IT industry should be cut off from the West, he said.
In the latest fighting, Kyiv said it had held off a Russian assault on Sievierodonetsk, an eastern city that has become the main target of Moscow’s offensive since it seized Mariupol last week.
Russian forces tried to storm Sievierodonetsk but were unsuccessful and retreated, Zelensky’s office said.
Moscow has been pushing to overrun the city as it tries to encircle Ukrainian forces and fully capture Luhansk and Donetsk provinces, the Donbas region it claims on behalf of separatists.
With Moscow having captured Mariupol last week after a three-month siege but losing territory elsewhere, the war in Ukraine is entering what some Western military analysts describe as a new phase: a major Russian push to capture the Donbas, before Moscow is expected to shift to defense.
With Post wires