Russia is seemingly blaming the use of cell phones by its own soldiers for a Ukrainian missile attack that killed almost 100 people.
The attack, which occurred on New Year's Day and targeted a base housing conscripted soldiers in the Russian-occupied territory of Donetsk, reportedly left 89 people dead and dozens wounded.
In a statement posted late Tuesday on the social media website Telegram, Russian Lt. Gen. Sergei Sevryukov wrote that it was "already obvious that the main reason, despite the restriction, was turning on and massive use of mobile phones by the personnel within the range area of enemy firepower."
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
Sevryukov went on to claim that this cell phone usage "allowed the enemy to locate the personnel for launching the missile strike."
However, in a rare show of dissidence, many Russians seemed to disagree with the stance that cell phones were to blame for the attack.
Semyon Pegov, a nationally known blogger who publishes pro-Russian propaganda and has been personally decorated by Russian President Vladimir Putin, wrote on his own Telegram page that Sevryukov's statement was "a blatant attempt to smear blame." Pegov also warned that more death would come if the Russians kept blaming each other.
Ukrainian officials also shrugged off the assertion that cell phones led them to the Russian base. "Of course, using phones with geolocation is a mistake. But it is clear that this version looks a bit ridiculous," Ukrainian Armed Forces spokesperson Serhii Cherevatyi said, per CNN. "It is clear that [cell phones] were not the main reason."
Create an account with the same email registered to your subscription to unlock access.