Russian forces rained artillery fire on Ukrainian positions along the whole contact line in the east, with a focus on Bakhmut and Avdiyivka in Donetsk, where the heaviest fighting has been taking place over the past months, Ukraine’s General Staff said on December 28.
Russians again shelled civilian areas in the southern region and city of Kherson from across the Dnieper River and shelled targets in Dnipropetrovsk, military and regional officials said.
“The enemy continues offensive actions in the Bakhmut and Avdiyivka directions and tries to improve the tactical position in the Lyman direction [in Luhansk],” the General Staff reported.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on December 28 that “only a few civilians” were left in Bakhmut.
“Last year, 70,000 people lived there. Now only a few civilians are left there,” Zelenskiy said on Facebook.
To gain control of Bakhmut, Russia has relied on mercenaries, prison conscripts, and newly mobilized soldiers.
In Bakhmut, “there is no place that is not covered with blood. There is no hour when the terrible roar of artillery does not sound,” Zelenskiy said. “Still, Bakhmut stands.”
In Kherson, Russian troops launched 33 artillery attacks and one missile strike on Ukrainian military and civilian positions in Kherson over the past 24 hours, the General Staff reported.
Russian troops again shelled the Nikopol district of the Dnipropetrovsk region during the night, the head of the regional military administration, Valentyn Reznichenko, reported on December 28.
Reznichenko said civilian houses were destroyed, as well as solar panels in the region that supplied much needed electricity.
Russia has been targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure for months with drone attacks, leaving millions of Ukrainians in darkness and cold.
Zelenskiy said in his regular evening address on December 27 that the situation in the the Donbas was “difficult and painful.”
Zelenskiy said the current week will be “important for Ukraine from a political point of view” and that an action plan was discussed for the Ukrainian military for next year and concerning the situation in the cities of Kreminna and Bakhmut.
Zelenskiy’s announcement came as a British military expert told the BBC that Ukrainian forces were very close to an important breakthrough around Kreminna and Svatove in Luhansk. Such a breakthrough could push Russians back some 65 kilometers, “close to where their invasion effectively began in February,” Michael Clarke said.
Russia’s military said it had inflicted significant losses on Ukrainian soldiers during artillery fighting on frontline positions stretching from Kherson to Kharkiv.
It claimed to have killed about 60 Ukrainian soldiers in fighting around Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, TASS reported, citing the Russian Defense Ministry. In the Luhansk region, some 30 Ukrainian soldiers were killed in an artillery attack, the ministry said.
The reports of battlefield successes were not possible to confirm.