In a rare disclosure, Russia's defense ministry said 63 soldiers were killed on New Year's Eve in a fiery blast that destroyed a temporary barracks in a vocational college in Makiivka, twin city of the Russian-occupied regional capital of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.
Unverified footage posted online of the aftermath of the blast at the Russian barracks in Makiivka showed a huge building reduced to smoking rubble.
Ukraine and some Russian nationalist bloggers have put the Makiivka death toll in the hundreds, though pro-Russian officials say those estimates are exaggerated.
Rallies to commemorate the dead were held in several Russian cities, including Samara, where some came from, RIA Novosti news agency reported. Mourners laid flowers in the center of Samara.
The strike on Makiivka came as Russia was launching what have become nightly waves of drone attacks on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address that the attacks were aimed at "exhausting our people, our anti-aircraft defenses, our energy."