400 shellings recorded in a single day in eastern Ukraine, even as winter arrives

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Nearly 400 shelling incidents were recorded in eastern Ukraine on Sunday, President Volodymyr Zelensky said, as fierce battles there persist despite the onset of winter weather.

Although there were fewer attacks on Sunday “due to the deterioration of the weather”, the number of shelling incidents was still “unfortunately, extremely high”, said Zelensky.

“There have been almost 400 shelling occasions in the east since the beginning of the day,” he said in his nightly address, without elaborating.

He said the fiercest fighting was in the Donetsk region.

That’s the area that he described last week as “hell” because of Russian attacks, drawing attention to one of the war’s most entrenched battlegrounds, even as the country celebrated the recapture of the southern city of Kherson.

The Kremlin announced in April that its military priority was to capture all of Donetsk and the neighbouring region of Luhansk, which together are known as the Donbas. By July, it could claim to have captured the last city in Luhansk.

A rout of Russian forces in September in parts of the Kharkiv region, which borders the Luhansk region, raised the prospect that Ukrainian forces might advance quickly in Donetsk.

But military analysts say that Donetsk presents a stiff challenge, in part because a section of it was seized in 2014 by Moscow-backed separatists who have had years to dig defensive positions.

Buoyed by its recent success in retaking Kherson, Ukraine has pressed its counteroffensive in Luhansk, even as winter approaches.

But the fighting there over villages and roads outside the Russian-held cities of Svatove and Kreminna has slowed to a grind in recent weeks, and military experts say that both sides have started to adapt their tactics as the weather worsens.

“Little by little, we are moving forward with battles,” Zelensky said of Luhansk in his address on Sunday.

Some military analysts have said the recapture of Kherson, after Russian forces withdrew under pressure, might enable Ukraine to shift forces, as well as artillery, east to Luhansk and Donetsk.

But Britain’s defense intelligence agency said on Friday that Russia would probably try to redeploy some of the troops it pulled out of Kherson to reinforce its operations near the town of Bakhmut in Donetsk.

That’s where Moscow is pressing an offensive led by the Wagner Group, a private Russian military force that has close ties to President Vladimir Putin.

In its Friday update, the British defense intelligence agency also said Russian forces had been digging new trench systems near the Siversky Donets River between the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces, suggesting that they were making preparations “in case of further major Ukrainian breakthroughs”.

 

 

SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES

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