Russia has struggled to advance in the area for months, with both sides suffering huge losses becoming a focal point of the conflict after Ukraine’s successful counteroffensive in the south. But Kremlin forces appeared to have made progress on Soledar in recent days.
Russian soldiers and fighters from the Wagner mercenary group were probably in control of most of Soledar, 6 miles northeast of Bakhmut, the British Ministry of Defence. saying at his daily intelligence briefing on the war on Tuesday. The move to take Soledar was, he said, “most likely an effort to encircle Bakhmut from the north and to disrupt Ukrainian lines of communication.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked soldiers resisting Russian advances in a statement monday night.
“It is extremely difficult, there are almost no complete walls left,” he said. “Because of the resistance of our warriors there, in Soledar, we have bought more time and more power for Ukraine.”
Zelenskyy said that in the area around Soledar and Bakhmut, “everything is completely destroyed. There’s almost no life left.”
“All the land near Soledar is covered with the corpses of the occupiers and the scars of the strikes,” he added. “This is what madness looks like.”
In a few days. Both sides have exchanged several thousand artillery shells in the area, in a trench fight described as “savage” and likened to World War I carnage by a US military officer at a abstract background to journalists on Monday.
Ukraine’s army said on Monday that Russia made a “desperate attempt to storm the city of Soledar from different directions and threw the most professional units of the Wagnerians into battle.”
Serhiy Cherevaty, a spokesman for the eastern Ukrainian forces, told Ukrainian television that Soledar was hit by 86 shells on Tuesday alone.
“Now there are fierce battles, and the enemy has concentrated there the best units of the ‘Wagner’ organized criminal group, which are supported by the regular armed forces of the Russian Federation,” he said.
The Moscow-backed leader of the occupied Donetsk areas, Denis Pushilin, told Russian state television on Tuesday that Russian forces were “very close” to taking Soledar, but the gains came at a high price. Taking the city would create “good prospects” for taking Bakhmut later, he said.