Lviv, Ukraine, November 5 (Reuters) – Ukraine’s defense minister on Saturday ordered an investigation into an alleged Russian ballistic missile attack on a Ukrainian assault battalion, after reports that more than 20 soldiers were killed during an awards ceremony.
“My condolences to the families of the fallen soldiers of the 128th Separate Mountain Assault Brigade in Transcarpathian,” Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustam Omerov said in a statement on social media, adding that he had ordered a “full investigation.”
In a separate statement on the messaging app Telegram, the Ukrainian Armed Forces said Russia attacked the Zaporizhzhya region with an Iskander ballistic missile.
The army added, “Soldiers were killed and local residents were also injured.”
It is not clear how many soldiers were killed.
The comments came after a wave of earlier reports on Ukrainian social media and from military bloggers that more than 20 soldiers were killed in a village near the front lines in Zaporozhye during an awards ceremony commemorating Artillery Day on Friday.
In its daily reports on battlefield activities, the Russian Defense Ministry said only that Russian forces “fired on” a unit of the Ukrainian assault brigade in the area, killing up to 30 servicemen.
Reuters was unable to independently verify the reports.
Both Russia and Ukraine have frequently underestimated the military losses they inflicted in the twenty-month war, while exaggerating the losses each claims to have inflicted on the other.
Additional reporting by Eileen Monaghan in Washington and writing by Lydia Kelly in Melbourne; Edited by Michael Perry
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