Ukraine denies Russian claims that 'massive missile strike' killed 600 Ukrainian troops

A Russian claim that its forces carried out a "massive missile strike" killing 600 Ukrainian troops has been dismissed outright by Kyiv.

The Kremlin says an attack in Kramatorsk hit a temporary barracks with "over 700 Ukrainian military personnel in dormitory 28 and over 600 Ukrainian military personnel in dormitory 47".

Russia says it has killed 600 Ukrainian troops - Ukraine war latest updates

"The Russian information is not true," said Serhii Cherevatyi, spokesperson for Ukrainian Joint Forces.

"Russian army attacked Kramatorsk with seven missiles at 11.30pm yesterday. But it does not have any impact on the Ukrainian army."

Read more: Why Russia's claim that air strike killed 600 is almost certainly a grotesque untruth

A Finnish journalist who visited the site of the alleged strike in Kramatorsk said it is unlikely it was a direct hit.

Antii Kuronen said: "I'm there and it's a bit strange that the building isn't even insulated. Locals didn't see any ambulances here in the morning either.

"I heard the explosions last night when this target was also hit. Large crater (possibly S-300) in front of the school. No direct hit. Military contacts visited the place in the morning and according to them the school was empty."

Reuters reporters also visited the two dormitories and found neither appeared to have been directly hit by missiles or seriously damaged.

The agency reported that there were no obvious signs that soldiers had been living there and no sign of bodies or traces of blood.

Reuters pictures from the scene in Kramatorsk show a large crater in front of a building that has no windows and shattered shop fronts.

Sky News international correspondent Alex Rossi, in Ukraine, says the view from the Ukrainian military is that this latest claim from the Kremlin is another act of Russian propaganda.

"Now whether it's true or not, as far as the Russians concerned, doesn't really matter.

"It's insidious. It kind of claws into people's consciousness.

"I think the fact remains, though, that all of the evidence and from what we have managed to glean from the area where it's said to happen... reports that are coming now through on social media are suggesting that this attack didn't really happen at all in the way that it has been shaped by the Russian Ministry of Defence."

The Russian Defence Ministry says the alleged strike was revenge for a deadly Ukrainian attack on a building in Makiivka on New Year's Eve.

One of the biggest single losses of life for Russia during the war, it was blamed by some on mobile phone use by soldiers stationed in the building.

The death toll for that attack remains contested, with Moscow claiming that dozens died while Ukraine says the number was as high as 400.

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Meanwhile, in eastern Ukraine, officials said at least two people have been killed in fighting, with one dying in strikes on Bakhmut, with eight others hurt in the wider Donetsk region, and another killed in the Kharkiv region town of Merefa.

And with nighttime temperatures dropping to -17C (1F), Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai said there was heavy fighting in the region and Russian forces had deployed their most combat-ready units and heavy equipment to the city of Kreminna that they occupy, which he said meant the Russians were slowly retreating.