Ukrainian forces are on the brink of recapturing the strategically important city of Kreminna in the east, according to a local official.
Serhiy Haidai, regional governor of the contested Luhansk region, which was annexed by Vladimir Putin after a sham referendum, tweeted Monday that the military command of the Russian forces “has left #kreminna, which the Ukrainian military is approaching…”
Haidi added that the fighting was already raging not far from the city.
In a Telegram post Tuesday, the official wrote: “the Russians understand that if they lose Kreminna, their entire line of defense will ‘fall.’”
In a Christmas Eve tweet, Haidai said that the Russian occupiers are akin to “rats on the run” who are fleeing ahead of the advancing Ukrainian soldiers.
Kreminna has been occupied by Moscow’s forces since April. Recapturing the city could lay the groundwork for the Ukrainian military to advance on the larger cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk.
In recent weeks, Kreminna and the nearby city of Svatove have seen some of the heaviest fighting of the war, second only to the battles raging in Bakhmut to the east, which Russians have been trying for months to capture at enormous cost in lives.
In his nightly address Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described the state of affairs in the Donbas region as “difficult and painful.”
Zelensky said Moscow’s military is deploying all available resources to try to make an advance in Bakhmut, Kreminna and other areas in Donbas, adding that the situation requires “a maximum of strength and concentration.”
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned Tuesday that Ukraine must demilitarize and “denazify” — or Moscow’s forces will “solve the issue” on the battlefield.
“As for the duration of the conflict, the ball is on the side of the (Kyiv) regime and Washington that stands behind its back,” Lavrov told the state Tass news agency. “They may stop senseless resistance at any moment.”
In an apparent clapback, Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted that “Russia needs to face the reality.”
“Neither total mobilization, nor panicky search for ammo, nor secret contracts with Iran, nor Lavrov’s threats will help,” he added. “Ukraine will demilitarize the RF (Russian Federation) to the end, oust the invaders from all occupied territories. Wait for the finale silently…”
With Post wires