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Kyiv – Ukrainian forces are escalating counterattacks in the east, a military official said Wednesday.

The chief military administrator of the Luhansk region, which is almost entirely controlled by Russia, Serhiy Hayday, said heavy fighting was taking place near the two small cities of Kreminna and Svatove.

While the Ukrainian army was making a gradual advance towards Svatove, Hayday said in a Telegram messaging app, “As the Russian army draws on stockpiles of equipment and personnel and newly mobilized forces, every meter of Luhansk is being destroyed. The liberation comes at a high price,” he said. .

The capture of two cities and a third, Starobirsk, would extend the gains made by the Ukrainian army during the war. Rapid counteroffensive in the northeastern Kharkov region September could allow them to advance towards the Russian border.

You can also manage the triangular roads that provide access to Sievierodonetsk and Lyschansk, two large cities farther south that fell to Moscow in the summer.

Haidai said these big cities were the objective of the campaign, adding that Ukrainian forces were already in a position to open fire on Russian forces on the road between Kreminna and Svatove. There is no independent confirmation of the military situation.

Russia has controlled two eastern Ukraine provinces, Luhansk and Donetsk, since 2014 and illegally annexed the region, known as Donbass, in October.

The ultimate goal of Ukraine’s war is to reclaim all territories occupied by Russia.

Airstrikes on Russian infrastructure have made the onset of winter weather more dire for those with limited access to heating and electricity, but could be a boon for the Ukrainian military.

“Cold weather and icy ground will allow the Ukrainian military to speed up the pace of counterattacks in the eastern part of the country,” Serhiy Cherevaty, a spokesman for the military’s Eastern Forces, said on Ukrainian television this week. The highest temperature in Luhansk on Wednesday was minus 5 degrees Celsius.

After mid-November, there was no significant progress in the war. Kremlin withdraws troops from southern city of Kherson In an important victory for Ukraine.

However, the barrage of fighting and artillery fire continued for weeks.

Haydai said Monday that Ukrainian soldiers shot down a Russian helicopter in the Svatove and Kreminna areas on Sunday. The Ukrainian Air Force posted a video of the episode on Facebook on Monday, but independent confirmation of the attack is not immediately available.

An analysis of satellite imagery by military experts shows that Russian forces were building defensive barriers intended to impede the Ukrainian advance and protect the land they hold. Ukraine escalates counterattack in Luhansk, aided by winter freeze

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