Russia has suffered some of the heaviest military losses in a single battle since the start of the war in Ukraine after elite units repeatedly tried to storm a fortified coal mining town in broad daylight, media reports said.
Ukraine officials said that one marine brigade of 5,000 men was almost entirely destroyed, for the third time since Kremlin launched the full-scale invasion nearly a year ago, Daily Mail reported.
The carnage and loss of at least 130 armoured vehicles led Russian hardliners to call for public show trials to punish incompetent generals responsible for the repeated battlefield massacres of their soldiers.
"Some of them are complete cretins all the mistakes that were made before were repeated," said Igor Girkin, a former Russian intelligence officer who helped stage the pro-Moscow 2014 insurgencies in Donetsk and Crimea.
Girkin complained that Russian soldiers were killed 'like turkeys in a shooting range' as Ukrainians held higher positions, Daily Mail reported.
The latest attempt to seize Vuhledar began in late January with Spetsnaz special forces, armoured battalions and infantry troops attacking from several directions. But in an early setback for the Russians, the Spetsnaz commander was killed.
The mining town, home to 14,000 people before the war and sitting on high ground close to the only rail link between Crimea and Donetsk, was fortified with artillery after withstanding three months of attack. The heaviest waves of assault came last week, leading to the bloodbath of marines, Daily Mail reported.
Evgeny Nazarenko, spokesman for one of the defending Ukrainian units, said the Russian advances had been easily spotted from high-rise buildings as they crossed open fields towards the town.
"We are at the top and they are at the bottom. They are perfectly visible," Nazarenko said.
Tom Cooper, a military historian who has studied the battle, described Vuhledar as "a big, tall fortress in the middle of an empty, flat desert".
The defeat came days after Sergei Shoigu, the Kremlin defence minister, boasted about a "successful offensive near Vuhledar".
Kiev's Defence Ministry responded by posting a video showing the destruction of a Russian military column in the area, Daily Mail reported.