Russia renews attempt to capture Soledar town near Bakhmut

Commander of the Ukrainian Army, Colonel. General Oleksandr Syrskyi gives instructions at a shelter in Soledar, Ukraine's Donetsk region, Sunday, Jan. 8.
Commander of the Ukrainian Army, Colonel. General Oleksandr Syrskyi gives directions at a shelter in Soledar, Ukraine’s Donetsk region, Sunday, January 8. (Roman Chop/AP)

Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said in a telegram on Monday that Russian forces were making another attempt to advance towards Soledar, a small town near Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region.

“After the failure [previous] Attempting to capture Soledar and retreat, the enemy regrouped, recovered its losses, deployed more shock troops, changed tactics and launched a powerful attack,” said Maliar. A large number of commando groups engaged in battle. The enemy actually marches on the corpses of their own soldiers, using cannons, multiple rocket launchers, and mortars profusely, even covering their own fighters with fire. “

“The fierce battle is still going on at this moment,” she added.

Earlier on Monday, Ukrainian military spokesman Serhii Cherevatyi told Ukrainian television that Russia had “managed to concentrate more forces” around Soledar, deploying “regular” troops and mercenaries working for the private sector group Wagner.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner Group, said Sunday that one of the reasons he wanted to take over Bakhmut and Soledar was to gain control of the region’s mine system, which he described as a “network of underground cities”.

Cherevatyi, a spokesman for the eastern bloc of Ukraine’s armed forces, said they were trying to evacuate civilians from Soledar, but not everyone was willing to leave.

“Soledar has literally been destroyed,” he said. “There are residents there. Every effort is being made to evacuate them. It’s hard to talk about the numbers now. There is a section of the population, especially the older generation, who are very afraid of change, of leaving their homes and moving elsewhere. We are communicating with them, but not always everyone agrees [to leave]”

On Sunday night, President Volodymr Zelensky said Soledar was “persisting” but “very hard”.

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