A long-range strike by French SCALP cruise missiles on Monday struck and devastated an office building used by Russian army leadership in the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk. According to unconfirmed reports, the top commander of all Kremlin forces on the Russo-Ukrainian War’s southern front was wounded in the attack.

Kyiv Post graphic of social media geolocated to the city Luhansk, showing aspects of a May 20 SCALP missile strike in the city. The upper images recorded from two different locations show smoke from the strikes in the general area of an LPR base used by Russian troops. The lower image shows a SCALP missile exploding in the air from malfunction or successful intercept.

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The missile strike hit an administrative and academic building complex operated by the Kremlin’s occupation government in Yuvileine, just outside of Luhansk City.

At least two SCALP missiles struck an office building, according to most reports, as Russian army leadership was holding a meeting inside.

The pro-Ukraine Telegram channel Dosye Shpiona, an information platform often publishing information similar to Ukrainian military intelligence, reported 13 Russian service members were killed in the strike, and another 26 were wounded.

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One of the wounded was Col. Gen. Gennadiy Anashkin, the recently appointed commander of Russia’s southern military district and effectively the top officer of all Kremlin forces deployed to Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, Donetsk and Luhansk regions, the report said, citing “two independent sources.”

There was wide confirmation in independent Ukrainian media, and Kremlin-controlled Luhansk media, of the SCALP attack and substantial damage to buildings and injuries. Isolated reports repeated the news that Anashkin was among the wounded.

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The strikes in the mid-morning hours were widely recorded by Luhansk residents and video posted on social media – in violation of a local law forbidding it – showed at least three and possibly five substantial explosions raising massive gray smoke.

Kyiv Post screen grab and graphics from Russian social media showing a May 20 SCALP missile attack in progress against targets in the city Luhansk. The images appear recorded by a Russian or pro-Russia Ukrainian soldier located in the south of the city. Both impacts from missiles striking the ground and smoke from an incoming missile intercepted by air defenses are visible.

Many reports said the missile strike appeared to target a single building within the premises of the Luhansk Academy of Internal Affairs Named for E.A. Didorenko, in the center of the city.

A statement published by Leonid Pasechnik, an official in the Luhansk occupation authority, said falling missile debris hit civilian structures in the suburban village of Yuvileine, some eight kilometers to the west.

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He mentioned no damage to Russian troops or buildings used by them and stated the SCALP missile set one house on fire and damaged “dozens” of other structures. Five civilians were injured, Pasechnik claimed.

Image published by Ukraine’s Army General Staff of Russian of SCALP missile debris found in the vicinity of an army base in the city Luhansk. The scoring on the lower left of the debris, possibly a guidance wing, was consistent with other images on Russian social media identifying it as Ukraine-fired and French in origin.

Artem Lysohor, a Luhansk region official associated with Kyiv, said that the missile strike hit a building taken over by Russian troops in 2014, during the Kremlin’s first invasion of Ukraine, and used by them as a command headquarters since then. The US-funded news platform Radio Liberty on Tuesday published satellite imagery seeming to show a damaged hi-rise building complex in the center of Yuvileine village.

Imagery reviewed by Kyiv Post confirmed at least one missile hit an office building in the center of Yuvileine village at the 48.5582, 39.18548 grid point. The structure appears to be the main building in a recently built limited-access complex. Apartment buildings surround it.

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May 21 satellite imagery published by Radio Liberty showing damage to buildings geolocated to a former Interior Ministry academic and administrative building complex in the Russia-occupied city Luhansk. SCALP missiles hit the location on the 20th. The location is some 8.5 kilometers from Yuvileine village.

A high-flying career paratroop officer, Anashkin per his official biography rose to prominence in 2008 as a colonel leading Russian paratrooper assault units invading Georgia. During 35 years of army service, he held command jobs from platoon leader to division commander, and saw combat in the First and Second Chechen Wars, and commanded Russian “peacekeeper” troops in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as Soviet troops stationed in East Germany.

Col. Gen. Gennadiy Anashkin reportedly was awarded Russia’s highest medal for military heroism the Hero of Russia in 2024, however, his official citation reportedly has not been published by the Kremlin.

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In 2014 Anashkin was appointed vice commander of Russia’s 58th Army, an area command responsible for operations in the Caucasus and the Black Sea region. He was named the 58th Army’s commander and promoted to Colonel General, the top possible uniformed rank in the Russian army, in 2023. On May 15 a Kremlin order named Anashkin acting commander of Russia’s Southern Military District, the Russian Federation’s area command responsible for operations in south Ukraine and the Caucasus region.

Fact Check:

On May 20, SCALP missiles hit the Luhansk city area, and a local official named Gennadiy Pasechnik said the Ukrainians used the missiles to attack civilian targets, that dozens of buildings were damaged, and at least five civilians were injured. Checks of other sources and satellite imagery showed that, in reality, the Ukrainians targeted a former MVD complex that was being used by the Russian army as a headquarters.

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