Conflicts & War

‘Intense’ battle rages in key eastern city of Soledar

Lviv/Moscow, Jan 12 (EFE).- Ukrainian military officials on Thursday refused to provide clear information on the situation in the eastern town of Soledar, which Russia has claimed victory over while admitting that “pockets of resistance” by Ukrainian troops still remain.

Capturing Soledar, a salt-mining town in the eastern region of Donetsk, is seen as key to controlling Bakhmut and Siversk and paving the way for a subsequent push on Slovyansk and Kramatorsk, the two largest cities of the mostly Russian-speaking Donbas currently held by Kyiv.

At a press conference in the Ukrainian capital, the deputy head of the Main Operations Directorate of the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Oleksiy Gromov, said: “As for Soledar: intense battles are being fought, it is a bit inappropriate to estimate in percentage terms what part of the town we control and what part the enemy is trying to control.”

The General Staff also claimed on Thursday morning that Ukrainian forces had eliminated over 100 Russian soldiers in a single attack near Soledar.

The Russian-installed authorities in the annexed region of Donetsk acknowledged that “small pockets” of Ukrainian fighters were resisting in Soledar.

“There are isolated small pockets of resistance in Soledar, our guys continue to push the enemy out of these places,” said Andrei Bayevsky, a lieutenant colonel and member of parliament of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.

“In general, the operation is developing successfully and the western outskirts of Soledar are already completely under our control,” he added in remarks on the Soloviev Live television program.

Bayevsky said that control of Soledar was paramount, as it would allow “to develop the attack on Bakhmut from the north and completely cut off the supply routes of the Ukrainian armed forces from Siversk.”

“Taking control of Soledar means direct sight of the road from Sloviansk to Bakhmut and the opportunity to target it directly,” he said.

Russian troops have for months been trying unsuccessfully to take Bakhmut.

Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin repeated claims on his Telegram channel on Wednesday night that the private military company’s mercenaries operations in Soledar had “completely liberated” the city.

But Russian defense ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Igor Konashenkov had previously said that while Russian troops had blockaded Soledar from the north and south, battles were raging inside the city.

In its latest report, the Washington DC-based think tank Institute for the Study of War said the capture of Soledar might not lead to an immediate encirclement of Bakhmut.

Control over Soledar “will not necessarily allow Russian forces to exert control over critical Ukrainian ground lines of communication into Bakhmut,” the ISW said.


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