The Ukrainian military said Wednesday the use of cell phones by Russian troops was not the main reason their position was located in Makiivka, leading to a devastating strike in the eastern Donetsk region.
“Of course, using phones with geolocation is a mistake. But it is clear that this version looks a bit ridiculous,” according to the spokesman for the Eastern Group of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Serhii Cherevatyi.
The Russian Ministry of Defense on Wednesday appeared to blame the soldiers themselves for the Ukrainian strike, saying that “the main cause” of the incident was the widespread use of cell phones by Russian soldiers “contrary to the ban,” allowing Ukraine to “track and determine the coordinates of the soldiers' locations.” Russia also revised its estimate of soldiers killed, from 63 to 89.
Cherevatyi said “to deploy such large batches of newly mobilized — which means not very trained, not very coordinated — people in large rooms unsuitable for sheltering in case of danger, is a very weak excuse.”
“Of course, this is a mistake [of the Russians], and I think that now they are engaged in [searching for] who is to blame. They are putting the blame on each other,” he continued.
“It is clear that this [use of phones] was not the main reason. The main reason was that they were unable to covertly deploy these personnel. And we took advantage of that, having detected the target powerfully and destroyed it,” Cherevatyi added.
Four rockets from US-made HIMARS launchers were used in the strike in Makiivka, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense.
The Ukrainian military has claimed up to around 400 Russian soldiers died in the strike, but later added the number was "being clarified."
CNN cannot independently verify either figure.