New Delhi: Nearly two months into the invasion of Ukraine, Russian forces have taken control of Kreminna in the Luhansk region of Donbas as part of their offensive to gain control over the eastern part of the country and eventually establish a land route to the Black Sea.
Kreminna is approximately 700 kilometres from Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv. Estimates suggest that the city had a population of 18,000 before the beginning of Russia’s “special military operation” in February this year.
Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of the Luhansk region, said on 19 April, “Kreminna is under the control of the ‘Orcs’ [Russians]. They have entered the city. Our defenders had to withdraw. They have entrenched themselves in new positions and continue to fight the Russian Army.”
Russian forces reportedly attacked the city of Kreminna from all sides, overwhelming Ukrainian troops. Kreminna could now act as a base for Russian forces to launch an offensive against Ukraine’s strategic military hub at Kramatorsk, which is an hour’s drive from Kreminna.
This marks the beginning of the second phase of the war, which is now centred around the eastern-Donbas region. Control of both Kreminna and Kramatorsk could enable Russia to establish hegemony over the Donbas region and fulfil its new war goals.
Russia is now trying to destroy defensive posts across eastern Ukraine, claimed Oleksiy Danilov, Ukraine’s secretary of the national security and defence council.
Once they secure Donbas, Russian forces could mount a more concerted offensive on Mariupol, which would enable them to set up a land corridor between Crimea on the Black Sea, which Moscow annexed in 2014, and the territory it controls in eastern Ukraine.
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Situation in Kreminna unclear
However, there is still some ambiguity over whether Russia took control of Kreminna Monday or early Tuesday.
The number of civilians who died during the Russian offensive in Kreminna is also unclear. While governor Gaidia has put forward an estimated toll of 200, he cautioned the media that it is impossible to determine an exact toll, given the circumstances.
The Kyiv Independent, a Ukrainian media outlet, reported that evacuation efforts were underway in Kreminna early Wednesday morning despite heavy shelling after Russia took control of the city.
Mobile and internet connectivity also seem to have been disrupted in Kreminna with The Guardian reporting that people have been unable to speak to their relatives and family members still in the city.
(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)
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