Sunday, January 15, 2023

Russia Says It Took Soledar, Ukraine Denies Its Capture; Ukraine Says Fight for Soledar Isn’t Over Despite Russian Gains; Russian Troops ‘moving over Their Own corpses’ as More Than 100 Killed in Soledar; Moscow and Kyiv Dispute Control Over Salt-Mining Town, LIVE UPDATES and MORE

AP Photo/Libkos, File
Russia says it took Soledar, Ukraine denies its capture:
Russia claimed Friday that its forces captured the fiercely contested salt-mining town of Soledar in what would mark a rare victory for the Kremlin after a series of setbacks in its war in Ukraine. Ukrainian authorities said the fight for the town continued.
Moscow has painted the battles for Soledar and nearby Bakhmut as key to capturing the entire eastern region of the Donbas — and also as a way to grind down the best Ukrainian forces and prevent them from launching counterattacks elsewhere. But that cuts both ways, and Ukraine has said its fierce defense of the eastern strongholds has helped tie up Russian forces.
Western officials and analysts say the two towns’ importance after months of bloody fighting is more symbolic than strategic.
Since its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, Moscow has prioritized taking full control of the Donbas — a region made up of the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces, where it has backed a separatist insurgency since 2014. Russia has seized most of Luhansk, but about half of Donetsk remains under Ukraine’s control.
There have repeatedly been conflicting reports over who controls Soledar. The Associated Press could not independently confirm either side’s claim.
“The liberation of the town of Soledar was completed in the evening of Jan. 12,” said Lt. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, the Russian Defense Ministry’s spokesman, calling the development “important for the continuation of offensive operations in the Donetsk region.” --->READ MORE HERE
Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Ukraine Says Fight for Soledar Isn’t Over Despite Russian Gains:
Ukrainian officials said fighting is continuing in the eastern town of Soledar after Russian forces made inroads there, claiming their first significant success in Ukraine for months.
Russian forces spearheaded by the Wagner Group private paramilitary organization have advanced into Soledar in recent days, shifting their firepower there after months of failed attempts to seize the nearby city of Bakhmut.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky convened a meeting of top security officials on Thursday at which the situation in Bakhmut and Soledar received special attention. “The units defending these cities will be supplied with ammunition and everything else necessary promptly and without interruption,” he said.
Ukraine’s deputy defense minister, Hanna Malyar, said on Telegram that in addition to Russia’s efforts to capture Soledar, its “attempts to surround Bakhmut also continue.”
Wagner’s owner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, on Wednesday said his forces were in full control of Soledar despite continuing street battles with pockets of Ukrainian soldiers downtown. The group published pictures of Mr. Prigozhin in what it said were the town’s salt mines.
Ukrainian officials denied losing control of Soledar while saying Wagner had advanced.
“Now the terrorist state and its propagandists are trying to pretend that some part of our city of Soledar—a city that was almost completely destroyed by the occupiers—is allegedly some kind of Russian achievement,” Mr. Zelensky said in his nightly address on Wednesday. “But the fighting continues.”
The General Staff of Ukraine’s armed forces also said there was fierce fighting in Soledar, declining to quantify how much of the town remains under the control of its forces. --->READ MORE HERE
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