On the nominal front line in Ukraine, Luhansk’s Ukrainian governor, Serhiy Haidai, said Russian forces have withdrawn from their military command operations post in the town of Kreminna as Ukrainian forces were approaching after months of intense fighting. Russia’s Defence Ministry didn’t comment on the withdrawal claim.
Russian forces relocated to Kreminna and several other areas in September after they pulled back from the Kharkiv region in eastern Ukraine.
Kreminna is in the eastern Luhansk region, which is almost entirely under Moscow’s control, and is on an important supply route for Russian forces and serves as a gateway for movement into other strategic positions. Earlier, Haidai reported that Russia had withdrawn its occupying government administration from Svatove, 51 kilometres north of Kreminna.
Haidai told Ukrainian television on Monday that Russian forces in the region are “suffering huge losses and medical facilities are overwhelmed with wounded soldiers.” The Russian army is redeploying paratroopers from the Kherson region to the area, he added.
In neighbouring Donetsk region, partially occupied by Russia, fierce battles continue around the city of Bakhmut, which Russian forces have been trying to seize for weeks to consolidate their grip on Ukraine’s east. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said last week Bakhmut was the hottest spot on the war’s 1300-kilometre front line.
Ukrainian officials have maintained ambiguity over previous high-profile attacks, including drone strikes on Russian military bases earlier this month.
On December 5, unprecedented drone strikes on Engels and the Dyagilevo base in the Ryazan region in western Russia killed a total of three servicemen and wounded four others. In retaliation, Russia launched a massive missile barrage in Ukraine that struck homes and buildings and killed civilians.
Elsewhere on the battlefield, at least four civilians were wounded in Russian shelling of five Ukrainian southeast regions over the past 24 hours, according to the deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko. Overall, the intensity of the shelling from Sunday night into Monday was significantly lower.
For the first time in weeks, Russian forces didn’t shell the Dnipropetrovsk region, which borders the partially occupied southern regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, its governor, Valentyn Reznichenko, reported on Telegram.
“This is the third quiet night in 5.5 months since the Russians started shelling” the areas around the city of Nikopol, Reznichenko wrote. Nikopol is located across the Dnieper River from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is under the control of Russian forces and whose six reactors are shut down.
Ukrainian-controlled areas of the neighbouring Kherson region were shelled 33 times over the past 24 hours, according to Kherson’s Ukrainian Governor Yaroslav Yanushevich. No casualties were reported.
On Sunday, Russian forces attacked the city of Kramatorsk, where Ukrainian forces are headquartered. Three missiles hit an industrial facility and damaged residential buildings, but no casualties were reported, according to local officials.
On Saturday, a deadly attack on the city of Kherson, which Kyiv’s forces recaptured last month, killed and wounded scores of people. Local residents are lining up to donate blood for the wounded, Yanushevich said Monday.