Army soldier figurines are displayed in front of the Ukrainian and Russian flag colors background in this illustration taken, Feb. 13, 2022. — REUTERS/DADO RUVIC/ILLUSTRATION

LVIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s defense minister ordered on Saturday an investigation into an alleged Russian ballistic missile attack on Ukrainian assault brigade, after reports that more than 20 soldiers were killed during an awards ceremony.

“My condolences to the families of the fallen soldiers from the 128th Separate Mountain Assault Transcarpathian Brigade,” Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov said in a social media statement, adding that he had ordered a “full investigation.”

In a separate statement on the Telegram messaging app, Ukraine’s Armed Forces said that Russia attacked the Zaporizhzhia region with the Iskander ballistic missile.

“Servicemen were killed, and local residents were also injured,” the military said.

It was not clear how many soldiers died.

The statements came after a flurry of earlier reports on Ukrainian social media and from military bloggers that more than 20 soldiers were killed in a village close to the front lines in Zaporizhzhia during an award ceremony commemorating the Artillery Day on Friday.

In its daily reports on battlefield activities, the Russian Defense Ministry said only that Russian forces “inflicted fire” on a unit of Ukraine’s assault brigade in the region, killing up to 30 military personnel.

Reuters could not independently verify the reports.

Both Russia and Ukraine have often underestimated their military casualties in the 20-month-long war, while exaggerated the losses they claim to have inflicted upon each other. — Reuters