Lviv, Ukraine, Oct 5 (EFE).- The Ukrainian army on Wednesday continued its counteroffensive in the south and east of the country as it regained more territory that had been occupied by Russia and included in regions Moscow has decided to annex.
The Kremlin, for its part, has admitted to the retreat, which it calls a “regrouping” of its troops.
Ukrainian troops have advanced in Kherson in the south, are nearing the complete liberation of Kharkiv province and say they are making progress in Lugansk in the east.
“The dis-invasion of Lugansk is underway,” Sergiy Gayday, the head of military administration in the region, announced on Telegram, who said “several settlements” had been liberated by the Ukrainian army.
Gayday appealed to residents of Russian-occupied territories to leave to avoid civilian casualties in the coming fighting.
He warned that Russian forces are preparing for the defense of Kreminna and said that capturing that town would allow Ukrainian troops to attack larger towns, such as Starobilsk, Severodonetsk and Rubizhne.
Ukrainian advances in western Lugansk mean that none of the regions formally annexed by Russia are under Moscow’s full control.
The liberation of several settlements near Borova, east of the Oskil River (Kharkov district), was confirmed on Tuesday, opening the route to northern Lugansk and leaving only part of that region in Russian hands.
The biggest Ukrainian advance was in Kherson, where a significant portion of territory west of the Dnipro River, including the main town, remains in Russian hands.
The Ukrainian army general staff claimed that Russian troops in the area “are demoralized and retreating” and are attempting to blow up bridges and crossings, as well as mine abandoned settlements, to slow the advance of Ukrainian troops.
The Ukrainian counteroffensive on Kherson began on August 29 with attacks on Russian command centers, ammunition depots and supply routes, for which the Ukrainian Army was supported by long-range, U.S.-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).
The Russian Army claimed that what Ukraine calls a retreat is a regrouping in Kherson to regain forces and counterattack in response to the Ukrainian counteroffensive, said pro-Russian deputy head of the Military-Civil Administration in this Russian-annexed southern province, Kiril Stremousov.
“The Russian Army is carrying out (regrouping) maneuvers. The regrouping of the front in the current conditions allows us to gather forces and attack now,” Stremousov told the official RIA Novosti agency.
The pro-Russian deputy head of Kherson again claimed that the advance of the Ukrainian forces in the region had been stopped, while in Moscow, military officials insist that the Russian army “will recover” the localities lost during the Ukrainian offensive in territory annexed by Russia.EFE