Ukraine war: Makiivka strike death toll disputed, new Kyiv attacks, gas prices hit record low

1. Scores of Russian soldiers killed in Donetsk missile attack

Scores of Russian soldiers have been killed in a Ukrainian strike on the occupied city of Makiivka, Russia’s defense ministry admitted on Monday.

Kyiv claimed that around 400 Russian soldiers died and 300 more were injured in the incident, which happened at a temporary accommodation center in the eastern Donetsk region.

Russia acknowledged that 63 troops were killed, making it one of the deadliest strikes in the Ukraine war so far.

Euronews is unable to independently verify either casualty claim.

A spokesman for Russia’s defense ministry said four missiles hit the structure but did not give a date for the attack.

Nationalist bloggers in Russia, who yield a sizable influence, have called on military commanders to be punished for allegedly housing soldiers alongside an ammunition dump.

They claimed the huge destruction was because ammo was stored near a barracks, despite top brass knowing it was within range of Ukrainian rockets.

Russian-backed Donetsk official Daniil Bezsonov said US-made HIMARS rockets hit the center on January 1.

“Apparently, the high command is still not aware of the capabilities of this weapon (HIMARS),” he wrote on Telegram. “I hope that the perpetrators who made the decision to use this facility will be punished. In the Donbas, there are enough abandoned facilities with strong buildings and basements where you can disperse the placement of personnel. And if everything is busy, then for a long time it was possible to dig bunkers with mine construction equipment.”

2. Russia launches more overnight attacks on Ukraine’s capital

A new airstrike targeted Kyiv in the early hours of Monday, according to authorities in the Ukrainian capital.

Ukraine claimed it shot down tens of drones launched by Russia and an unprecedented third straight night of air strikes against civilian targets in Kyiv and other cities.

Officials in Ukraine said their success in shooting down these targets proved that Moscow’s tactic of hammering the country’s energy infrastructure was increasingly a failure, amid moves by Kyiv to strengthen its air defenses.

The attack comes after a New Year’s Day marked by dozens of Russian strikes that left at least four people dead and 50 injured in the capital and elsewhere in the country.

Russia continues to target critical infrastructure, claiming it was aiming for unmanned aircraft manufacturing facilities.

It has launched dozens of Iranian-made ‘Shahid’ (martyr) drones, prompting the EU to sanction Tehran.

Russia has been attacking Ukraine’s energy infrastructure for months, with millions losing power amid sub-zero winter temperatures in the country.

3. European gas prices at their lowest since the beginning of the war

Europe’s wholesale natural gas price fell to its lowest level since the start of the war in Ukraine on Monday, continuing its decline on the back of a relatively warm winter.

The benchmark contract for the continent, the TTF on the Dutch market, fell another 4.67% to €72.75 per megawatt-hour (MWh) for delivery in February.

At around 09:35 Monday morning, the price was the lowest since February 21. That’s compared to its peak in August 2022, when it sat at around €342 per MWh.

Gas prices began to rise in the autumn of 2021, with the start of a reduction in Russian gas deliveries to Europe, then took a very sharp upturn following the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Since then, gas pipelines between Russia and Europe have almost all shut down.

Volumes traded on Monday were weak as the main commodity market, London, was closed.

In France, the price of wholesale electricity for delivery in 2023, which had exceeded €1000 per MWh at the end of August, fell to €240 on Friday, the lowest since April.

But these variations in wholesale prices are not directly reflected in the prices charged to consumers, as electricity suppliers smooth their rates, especially during this period when prices can jump from one day to the next.

4. Russia risks causing new year IT worker flight with remote work law

Russia’s IT sector risks losing more workers in the New Year because of planned legislation on remote working, as authorities try to lure back some of the tens of thousands who have gone to work abroad.

IT workers featured prominently among the many Russians who fled after Moscow sent its army into Ukraine on February 24 and the hundreds of thousands who followed when a military call-up began in September.

The government estimates that 100,000 IT specialists currently work for Russian companies from overseas locations.

Now, legislation is being mooted for early next year that could ban remote working for some professions.

Some lawmakers, fearful that more Russian IT professionals could end up working in NATO countries and inadvertently sharing sensitive security information, have proposed banning some IT specialists from leaving Russia.

5. Ukrainian drone knocks out power in Russian region

A Ukrainian drone attack hit an electricity facility in southwest Russia on Monday, cutting off power temporarily, according to a regional governor.

Ukraine’s aerial strike damaged an electricity facility in Russia’s southwest Bryansk region on the Ukrainian border, cutting power for several hours.

“A Ukrainian drone attack was carried out this morning on the Klimovsky district,” said regional governor Alexander Bogomaz on Telegram.

“As a result of the strike, a power supply facility was damaged,” he added.

Bogomaz said the power supply in the district had been fully restored around 12 hours later.

Euronews could not independently verify the report.

Russia has accused Ukraine of conducting a number of high profile strikes in Russian-controlled territory, such as on a Russian airbase on the Crimean peninsula, although Ukraine did not claim responsibility for these attacks.

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