A senior Ukrainian official in the east of the country says the armed forces are in control of current positions but “moving forward is very difficult” because the Russians have brought up substantial reserves.
“Very fierce fighting continues in our Luhansk region. It is difficult. But the situation is absolutely stable and controlled by the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” Serhiy Hayday, head of the Luhansk regional military administration, told Ukrainian television Sunday.
Referring to the north-south frontline running between Svatove and Kreminna, Hayday said: “Moving forward there is very difficult because the occupiers have brought up huge reserves. And as I have said many times before — everything is very thoroughly mined there.”
But he added: “No matter how difficult it is, the Luhansk region is being de-occupied step by step, meter by meter.”
Hayday said Russian forces had several layers of defensive lines in the region. “The first line is mostly [held by] recently mobilized, either from Russia or the so-called LDPR [Luhansk People’s Republic].”
He said that Chechen forces were in the area as well as Russian regular forces.
“There are huge numbers of them [Russian troops in the Svatove-Kreminna area]. And a very large number of mobilized. And they are constantly being thrown into the offensive — almost all the time … And the huge problem is that there are just an incredible number of them. That is why every meter of the Luhansk region is extremely difficult to gain.”
Hayday claimed that militia from Luhansk and Donetsk fighting with the Russians had low morale. “They see a huge number of overcrowded hospitals. They see a huge number of corpses, which they have to pass when they are sent on the offensive. They see that those they talked to yesterday are just lying there, and no one is taking their corpses,” he said.
Ukrainian forces have been trying to advance toward Kreminna, which would allow them to threaten the Russian-held cities of Lysychansk and Severodonetsk, for weeks. But they are still thought to be several kilometers outside the town.