Ukraine: Warring parties in the Kremin region do not want to surrender
“VSfight, fight, fight’. Don’t surrender, defend or gain an inch of ground. On the front line in Kreminna, the main Russian-occupied city in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian soldiers admit they are facing a “tough” enemy.
“We fight with them every day, in any weather. We attack in the direction of Kremin, but it is not easy to defeat them. They are good, tough,” says 24-year-old soldier “Koulak”. The village of Yampil, which was recaptured by Ukrainian forces at the end of September, is located about thirty kilometers west of Kreminna.
“We’ve had some success on the Ukrainian side, not too big. The enemy doesn’t give up,” the young soldier admits with a smile, ensuring he’s in a “very good mood.”
Kreminna, located in the Lugansk region, is the scene of intense fighting. The Ukrainian army observes a suspension in the area, but the governor of the region, Serguiï Gaïdaï, has been proliferating encouraging and conflicting messages on Telegram for several days.
“Ukrainian defenders advanced 2.5 kilometers in the direction of Kreminna in a week,” he wrote on Thursday.
But a day ago, he indicated that the Russians had sent additional forces and equipment to the area, and at the same time, “the end of the occupation of the city may happen at the beginning of 2023.”
According to the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW), Russian forces are “preparing a decisive effort in the Luhansk region.” But ISW said in its daily bulletin on Wednesday that “it is not clear whether these are defensive or offensive operations”.
Military activity has increased in Yampil, Deputy Mayor Youlia Rybalko recognizes. In this 80% destroyed village, you find almost as many civilians as soldiers, and military vehicles crossing the village’s main street in a non-stop ballet.
A little further back, in a field behind some uninhabited houses, soldiers are busy tending two tanks named Natalya and Salvador, which were christened from the Russians during the liberation of the area.
“If we manage to recapture Kremina, we will be able to cut the Russian supply line to Rubizhne, Severodonetsk and Lysichansk (the other main occupied cities in the region) and break through their defensive wall in Luhansk region,” says Vlad. ., one of the tankers, originally from Kiev.
“We don’t want the situation to freeze. We want to push them back, get the job done,” he says.
Although it has been located in the “liberated” zone since the end of September, Yampil remains within firing range of the Russians. A few kilometers to the north, in the village of Torske, there is also fighting, and artillery fire has intensified in recent days.
Olga, a 69-year-old retired teacher who declined to give her last name, sighs: “It’s more or less good. It would be better if it weren’t for the deafening noises.”
He finds Yampil’s old men in front of Bon Appétit, the village’s only outdoor stable, a collection point for humanitarian aid, but above all a “chat room” for idle residents, as he does every day.
They are sitting around the table in front of the commercial store, talking and arguing despite the cold, distractedly watching the continuous passing of military vehicles.
“We came here to talk, this is our living room,” Olga smiles, while another woman sings a wild lament about the lack of light, money, and help in the village… “They don’t care about us!” he growls.
The main topic of conversation is humanitarian aid. In the distance, in front of her half-destroyed house, an 84-year-old lady with a blue scarf on her head points to a table and bursts into tears. “When help comes, they take everything, they don’t share anything. Why, why?”, he asks very worriedly.
“No one is starving in Yampil,” said deputy mayor Youlia Rybalko, who organized the distribution of food, clothing and firewood delivered by several NGOs.
The city has a population of about 600, compared to 2,500 before the war. But according to Olga, a former math teacher, many return. Because, he says, “nowhere feels better than home.”
30/12/2022 16:29:26 – Yampil (Ukraine) (AFP) – © 2022 AFP