Ukrainian forces have likely made gains in the forest area west of Kreminna in Luhansk Oblast, eastern Ukraine, the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said in its January 9 Russian offensive campaign assessment.
Kreminna is a small town of around 18,000 residents, which is currently occupied by Russian forces. In case Ukrainian forces regain control over Kreminna, Russian ground lines of communication along the key highway P07 leading from Svatove to Lysychansk will be disrupted. Both Svatove and Lysychansk, which remain under Russian control at this point, are important logistic hubs of Russian forces in Luhansk Oblast.
Russian and Ukrainian forces continued offensive operations along the Svatove-Kreminna line in Luhansk Oblast on January 8 and 9. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian troops repelled Russian attacks on Stelmakhivka, which is 15 km northwest of Svatove. Svatove is an important transportation hub of the Russian forces in occupied Luhansk Oblast. The Russian forces also continued limited ground attacks to regain lost positions near Kreminna on January 8 and 9, according to ISW.
The Ukrainian General Staff stated that Russian troops counterattacked near Makiivka (22 km northwest of Kreminna), Bilohorivka (10 km south of Kreminna), and Chervonopopivka (6 km north of Kreminna). However, Ukrainian forces repelled all Russian attacks on January 8 and 9.
Luhansk Oblast Head Serhiy Haidai stated on January 8 that heavy fighting is ongoing near Kreminna and that Russian forces transferred several paratroop battalions and heavy equipment to the area in order to hold their line of defense. Geolocated combat footage shows a duel between Russian and Ukrainian tanks southwest of Kreminna near Dibrova, indicating that Ukrainian troops have likely made gains in the forest area west of Kreminna. Meanwhile, Russian sources continued to discuss Ukrainian reconnaissance activities in the area southwest of Kreminna, particularly in forest areas along the Serebrianka-Hryhorvika line 10 km south of Kreminna, according to ISW.