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Ukraine hits Russian drone operator training facility in occupied Donetsk

Multiple reports indicate that Russia’s combat drone operator training center in Donetsk, occupied by Russian forces since 2014, was hit by an alleged Ukrainian HIMARS strike. Russia’s TASS disclosed the facility earlier this year.
A building in Russian-occupied Donetsk that reportedly hosted Russia’s combat drone operator training facility after an alleged Ukrainian strike on 7 November 2023. Source.
Ukraine hits Russian drone operator training facility in occupied Donetsk

On 7 November, multiple reports emerged on social media shortly after 15:00 about an alleged Ukrainian HIMARS strike on central Donetsk, a Ukrainian eastern oblast’s regional capital, occupied since 2014 by the Russian forces.

Later, Russian Telegram channels shared photographs showing a damaged building. 

The Ukrainian news site Censor.net reported on its Telegram channel that the damaged building in Donetsk was the so-called “Vladimir Zhoga Republican Center for Unmanned Systems of the DNR,” a military facility used by the occupation authorities to train combat drone operators. Unconfirmed Russian reports claimed there were casualties after the building was hit.

The strike hit precisely at 49 Chelyuskintsev Street, which turned out to be the UAV operator training center, which has been operating since 2022, according to Dialog.ua.

Russian news agency disclosed the facility

Vladimir Zhoga, for whom the center is named, was a prominent figure within Russia’s DNR terrorist organization. He served as a commander for the Sparta armed group, actively participating in the aggression against Ukraine since 2014. He was eliminated in March 2022 in Volnovakha, Donetsk Oblast.

Ukrainian media noticed that the destroyed building was earlier featured in the Russian press presented as the drone operator training facility.

In March 2023, the Russian state-run news agency TASS published footage showing the building of the facility and reported:

“A memorial plaque to Vladimir Zhoga, Hero of Russia, Hero of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR), commander of the Sparta reconnaissance battalion, was unveiled on Sunday at the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) control training center named after the hero.”

Today’s footage featuring the damaged facility shows the same building as the one in the TASS report, having the same plaque.

The Ukrainian side has not issued any comments regarding the alleged strike.

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