Categories
Audio Sources - Full Text Articles

Russia says its forces capture Soledar in east Ukraine

Listen to this article
2023-01-13T11:45:15Z

Ukrainian servicemen stationed near Soledar said on Thursday (January 12) they are holding their positions. Reuters was unable to verify conditions on the ground.

Russia said on Friday that its forces had taken control of the salt-mining town of Soledar in eastern Ukraine overnight after days of relentless fighting, claiming Moscow’s first big battlefield gain after half a year of military setbacks.

Reuters could not immediately verify the situation in the town. Earlier on Friday, Kyiv said fighting was still continuing there after what it described as a “hot” night.

Russia said the capture of Soledar would make it possible to cut off Ukrainian supply routes to the larger nearby city of Bakhmut, and trap remaining Ukrainian forces there. Russia has been trying to seize Bakhmut for months in brutal warfare.

“The capture of Soledar was made possible by the constant bombardment of the enemy by assault and army aviation, missile forces and artillery of a grouping of Russian forces,” Moscow’s defence ministry said.

Kyiv says Russia threw wave upon wave of soldiers and mercenaries into a pointless fight for a bombed-out wasteland at Soledar and U.S. officials said a Russian victory there, or even in Bakhmut, would make little difference to the overall war.

Soledar, with a pre-war population of just 10,000, sits above cavernous salt mines. Bakhmut, ten times larger, is a substantial provincial district hub.

“Even if both Bakhmut and Soledar fall to the Russians, it’s not going to have a strategic impact on the war itself,” U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters at the White House on Thursday, “and it certainly isn’t going to stop the Ukrainians or slow them down.”

The Wagner ultra-nationalist mercenary company run by an ally of President Vladimir Putin had claimed to have captured Soledar on Wednesday, but until now Russia’s defence ministry had stayed silent.

“The night in Soledar was hot, battles continued,” Ukraine’s Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

“The enemy threw almost all the main forces in the direction of Donetsk and maintains a high intensity of offensive. Our fighters are bravely trying to maintain the defence,” she said, referring to the Donetsk region which includes Soledar.

“This is a difficult phase of the war, but we will win. There is no doubt.”

Outside Soledar on Thursday, Ukrainian soldiers were dug into well-fortified trenches in the wintry woods. Explosions echoed in the distance.

A 24-year-old soldier using the call-sign BUK, told Reuters the intensity of shelling had risen by around 70 percent, but forces were still holding their positions.

“The situation is difficult but stable. We’re holding back the enemy … we’re fighting back.”

Ukrainian officials said on Thursday more than 500 civilians were trapped inside Soledar, including 15 children.

In an overnight video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy thanked two units in Soledar he said were “holding their positions and inflicting significant losses on the enemy.” He did not give more details.

The front lines in Ukraine have barely budged for two months since Russia’s last big retreat in the south. Meanwhile, the battles around Bakhmut and Soledar became what both sides called a “meat grinder” – a brutal war of attrition claiming the lives of thousands of soldiers needed for decisive battles ahead.

The new year has brought important pledges of extra Western weapons for Ukraine, which is seeking armour to mount mechanised battles against Russian tanks. Last week, France, Germany and the United States pledged to send armoured fighting vehicles.

In recent days, the focus has been on main battle tanks, which Western countries have yet to provide. On Friday, Finland joined Poland in promising to send German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine as part of a Western coalition. That requires the permission of Berlin, which has so far been hesitant but has lately signalled a willingness to allow it.

Putin launched the invasion on Feb. 24, saying Kyiv’s ties with the West threatened Russia’s security, and Russia has since claimed to have annexed four Ukrainian provinces. Ukraine and its allies call it an unprovoked war to seize territory, and Kyiv says it will fight until it recaptures all its land.

Related Galleries:

Ukrainian army, of the 43rd Heavy Artillery Brigade fire a German howitzer Panzerhaubitze 2000, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, near Soledar, Ukraine, January 11, 2023. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne/File Photo

A satellite view shows a destroyed school and buildings in south Soledar, Ukraine, January 10, 2023. Satellite image 2023 Maxar Technologies./Handout via REUTERS

A rescuer and a dog warm up next to a wood stove inside a State Emergency Service station in the town of Bakhmut, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine January 11, 2023. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty/Serhii Nuzhnenko via REUTERS

A woman warms up inside a State Emergency Service station in the town of Bakhmut, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine January 11, 2023. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty/Serhii Nuzhnenko via REUTERS

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chief of the General Staff of Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov attend an annual meeting of the Defence Ministry Board in Moscow, Russia, December 21, 2022. Sputnik/Mikhail Kuravlev/Kremlin via REUTERS/File Photo

A satellite view shows a smoldering building, in Soledar, Ukraine, January 3, 2023. Satellite image 2023 Maxar Technologies./Handout via REUTERS

People in military uniform, claimed to be soldiers of Russian mercenary group Wagner and its head Yevgeny Prigozhin, pose for a picture believed to be in a salt mine in Soledar in the Donetsk region, Ukraine, in this handout picture released January 10, 2023. Press service of “Concord”/Handout via REUTERS

A satellite view shows apartment buildings and homes, in Soledar, Ukraine, August 1, 2022. Satellite image 2023 Maxar Technologies./Handout via REUTERS

A satellite view shows destroyed apartment buildings and homes, in Soledar, Ukraine, January 10, 2023. Satellite image ?2023 Maxar Technologies./Handout via REUTERS

Chief of the General Staff of Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov attends an annual meeting of the Defence Ministry Board in Moscow, Russia, December 21, 2022. Sputnik/Sergei Fadeichev/Pool via REUTERS

A tank fires a round, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Soledar, Donetsk region, Ukraine, in this screen grab released on January 8, 2023 and obtained from a social media video by Reuters on January 10, 2023. State Border Guard Service Of Ukraine/via REUTERS/File Photo

An elderly woman walks near debris of a destroyed building purported to be a vocational college used as temporary accommodation for Russian soldiers, dozens of whom were killed in a Ukrainian missile strike as stated previously by Russia’s Defence Ministry, in the course of Russia-Ukraine conflict in Makiivka (Makeyevka), Russian-controlled Ukraine, January 10, 2023. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

Ukrainian members of the military fire an anti-aircraft weapon, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in the frontline city of Bakhmut, Ukraine, January 10, 2023. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

Local residents remove debris and carry belongings out of a shop destroyed in recent shelling in the course of Russia-Ukraine conflict in Donetsk, Russian-controlled Ukraine, January 10, 2023. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

Local resident Anatoly stands inside his house heavily damaged in recent shelling in the course of Russia-Ukraine conflict in Donetsk, Russian-controlled Ukraine, January 10, 2023. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

Local residents remove debris and carry belongings out of a shop destroyed in recent shelling in the course of Russia-Ukraine conflict in Donetsk, Russian-controlled Ukraine, January 10, 2023. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

Smoke rises from strikes on the frontline city of Soledar, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, as seen from Bakhmut, Ukraine, January 5, 2023. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

General view of railway lines, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Siversk, Ukraine, January 9, 2023. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

Local residents look through items at a site of the local market, heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in the Shevchenkove town, Kharkiv region, Ukraine January 9, 2023. REUTERS/Sofiia Gatilova

Ukrainian servicemen stand next to a 2S3 Akatsiya self propelled howitzer at their position in a frontline, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine January 8, 2023. REUTERS/Anna Kudriavtseva

Ukrainian firefighters work at the site of a local market, heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in the Shevchenkove town, Kharkiv region, Ukraine January 9, 2023. REUTERS/Sofiia Gatilova

A firefighter works at a site of a market hit by Russian missiles, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in the town of Shevchenkove, Kharkiv region, Ukraine January 9, 2023. Governor of Kharkiv region Oleh Sunehubov via Telegram/Handout via REUTERS

People return to their shelters after gathering water, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Siversk, Ukraine, January 9, 2023. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

Olha, 60, resident of Soledar waits in a temporary sleeping accommodation before being transported to an evacuation train where she will get out in Dnipro, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, January 8, 2023. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

General view of damage from a strike, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Siversk, Ukraine, January 9, 2023. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
WP Radio
WP Radio
OFFLINE LIVE