Ukrainian paratroopers have shared their experiences of the conflict in the city of Kreminna, noting that they are relying on their wits rather than sheer numbers to come out victorious in the battle.
According to the Institute for the Study of War, Russian forces have assembled a unified force by taking personnel from other locations in the theater to compensate for the decreasing strength of regular military units in the Svatove-Kreminna region.
The Ukrainian airborne soldiers in KREMINNA, Ukraine, have just one term to depict the unceasing Russian infantry forces putting pressure on their lines in and around the Donbas city.
One soldier, who requested to remain anonymous due to military rules, commented that the troops are sent off to likely perish in the first wave, and the more experienced personnel enter the fray if they succeed in breaching the enemy’s lines.
The Russian penetration of Ukraine has been ongoing for eleven months, and the violence in Kreminna is as severe as it is 80 kilometers away in Bakhmut.
However, interviews with Ukrainian troops and reports from Russian military bloggers on Telegram and other sources show that the violence is still as brutal and persistent. Moreover, it is uncertain how long it will persist, though one Ukrainian official has stated that Kreminna is on the brink of being retaken by Ukrainian forces.
Even though they outnumber them, Ukrainian forces have reported that Russia is quickly depleting their infantry by deploying inexperienced personnel with “zero strategy or planning.”
“In the case of the Kharkiv offensive, they were more dispersed. Now they are very focused. There are a lot of them,” another soldier said in an interview.
“We fight with our brains. They fight with numbers. Because their resources –we’re not revealing some secret here — are much greater than ours,” he said.
On Dec. 26, President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed in his nightly video that the circumstances in Bakhmut and Kreminna were distressing and complex. He added that the Russians were making use of all their available could muster, which was substantial, to gain some advancement.
Situated in the Luhansk region, close to the administrative boundary with the Donetsk region, Kreminna is located along a substantial north-south highway that is around 25 kilometers away from Syevyerodonetsk. This city was taken over by Russian forces in late June following a savage siege and highly intense, block-by-block urban fighting.
Last September, Ukrainian military personnel executed a sudden attack in the Kharkiv area in the north, compelling Russian soldiers to quickly withdraw. Ukrainian forces also reclaimed the city of Lyman in the Donetsk region and started advancing eastward towards Kreminna and the town of Svatove, further north.
Since then, Ukraine’s progress in this area of the conflict has come to a halt, especially as Russia began sending in their inadequately trained, freshly mobilized troops to prop up their defense.
On Dec. 26, Serhiy Hayday, the lead of the Luhansk regional military unit, declared in a tweet that Russian civilian officials and nearby military forces had retreated from Kreminna and relocated to a safer area to the east.
It was not possible to authenticate the report independently.
The military command of the russian occupiers has left #Kreminna, which the Ukrainian military is approaching, and the fighting is already going on not far from the city #RussiaUkraineWar pic.twitter.com/VpMh0WfcPD
— Serhiy Hayday (@serhey_hayday) December 26, 2022
Hayday stated in a different message on Telegram that the Russians are aware that their defensive system will collapse if the town of Kreminna is lost.
Two days after his post, he proposed that if Ukrainian troops recaptured Kreminna, they could equally take back multiple other towns or cities in the Luhansk district due to the fact that they had been damaged so severely they could not be defended.
On Dec. 24, Current Time interviewed soldiers close to the frontline in Kreminna, wherein they expressed their confidence in Ukraine’s capabilities to maintain their position. However, they also narrated how Russian forces kept on attacking them relentlessly.
In certain areas, including Bakhmut, footage and images posted by military bloggers and even the warfighters themselves allude to obsolete battlefield techniques that call to mind the trench warfare of World War I, in which foot soldiers march forward over exposed terrain and attempt to overpower the enemy’s trenches, only to be killed by gunfire.
The Ukrainian servicemen in the vicinity of Kreminna reported that they had witnessed analogous tactics.
“They just push and shove their way through. And a lot of them die. Because they have no tactics, nothing of the sort,” another soldier said. “They just go like meat. There were some cases when the infantry said that they went in without any [armed vehicles], or without machine guns.”
“They have a lot of artillery,” a fourth soldier said, adding that the newer shells provided by the United States and NATO allies to Ukraine are more effective. “Our [artillery] hits with 5- to 10-meter accuracy. But these new ones that we’ve been given, it’s 4 to 5 meters.”
One more soldier reported that Ukrainian troops were concentrating on interrupting Russian supply routes close to the towns in the Kreminna area.
Russia’s supply channels pass through these towns. Therefore, Ukrainians are aware that logistical support is Kremlin’s weakest link.
“The enemy’s logistics routes run through these villages. And, as we know, logistics is a priority. A fighter who isn’t backed up properly can’t fight,” he said. “There’s a railway junction. [Seizing it] will greatly disrupt their logistics. Then, I think, they will retreat from Bakhmut.”
ISW added that Russian forces working in Svatove-Kreminna are comprised of conscripts from the Moscow area, along with the 144th Motor Rifle Division of the 20th Combined Arms Army and the 8th Combined Arms Army.
“This composite force grouping suggests that Russian forces are pulling troops from various points throughout the theater to fill holes in the Svatove-Kreminna line and compensate for the continued degradation of conventional units,” the institute said in its December 26 report.