Scores of Russian recruits killed in Ukraine strike

STORY: Eyewitness video purports to show the smouldering remains of a building that housed Russian recruits in Ukraine's occupied Donetsk province.

On Monday (January 2), Russia acknowledged that scores of its troops were killed in one of the Ukraine war's deadliest strikes.

Rockets reportedly hit the recruits in Makiivka just after midnight on New Year's Eve.

The strike prompted Russian nationalist bloggers to call for commanders to be punished for housing soldiers alongside an ammunition dump.

Russia's defense ministry said 63 service personnel were killed.

Ukraine's defense ministry had said as many as 400 had died.

The air war intensified over the New Year holiday, with Moscow launching an unprecedented third straight night of strikes on January 2nd.

Ukraine said it had shot down all Russian drones in the wave of attacks which targeted cities including Kyiv - hundreds of miles from the frontlines.

It marks a change in Russian tactics after months in which Moscow usually spaced out such strikes.

Russia has turned to air strikes since suffering humiliating defeats on the battlefield in the second half of last year.

Ukraine says the attacks have no military purpose and are intended to hurt civilians.

In a stern New Year's Eve message, Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed no let-up.

He cast the war - which he calls a "special military operation" - as a near-existential fight for the future of Russia.

Ukrainian troops saw in the New Year on the front line in Donetsk.

In recent weeks, the front lines have been largely static, with thousands of soldiers dying in intense warfare.

In his latest nightly speech, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy praised Ukrainians, and said Russia's efforts would prove useless.

"We stand united", he said.

Russians are quote "united only by fear."