Fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces has continued at a “routine level” into the Orthodox Christmas period despite Vladimir Putin’s promise of 36-hour ceasefire, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said.
In its daily intelligence update, the MoD said that in the fiercely contested area around Kremina town in eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk province, fighting was focused in heavily forested terrain to the town’s west, where “combat has devolved to dismounted infantry fighting, often at short range”.
The MoD said: “Fighting has continued at a routine level into the Orthodox Christmas period. One of the most fiercely contested sectors continues to be around the town of Kremina, in Luhansk Oblast.
“In the last three weeks, the fighting around Kremina has focused on the heavily forested terrain to the west of the town.
“With the coniferous woodland providing some cover from air observation even in winter, both sides are highly likely struggling to accurately adjust artillery fire.”
They added: “As is typical with operations in forests, combat has largely devolved to dismounted infantry fighting, often at short range.
“Russian commanders will highly likely view pressure around Kremina as a threat to the right flank of their Bakhmut sector, which they see as key for enabling any future advance to occupy the remainder of Donetsk Oblast.”
It came as Russian artillery hit a fire station in Kherson in north-east Ukraine yesterday, killing one fireman hours before the start of a Kremlin-ordered ceasefire to mark the Orthodox Christmas. Despite calling for a 36-hour halt to fighting, the Kremlin has rejected the agreement and labelled it as a mere ploy by the Kremlin.
Shelling also continued in the Donbas region after midday, the supposed start of the first countrywide ceasefire since the war began in February.