Russian forces control Soledar, Defense Ministry says

Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed on Friday that its forces took complete control of the eastern Ukrainian town of Soledar, a settlement known for its salt mines, after gaining ground for several days.

Kyiv has previously noted difficulties in the region but has not yet commented on the Russian claim.

Soledar’s conquest could make it more difficult for Ukraine to hold nearby Bakhmut, a city that has acquired symbolic importance for both sides and has become the center of bitter front-line fighting. Taking Bakhmut would bring Moscow its first military success since last summer.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that its forces took Soledar late Thursday, adding that it was an important development for the “continuation of successful offensive operations” in the region.

“Full control of Soledar allows us to cut off the supply routes of Ukrainian forces in the southwestern city of Soledar [Bakhmut] and then blockade and ‘cauldron’ the remaining units,” Russia’s Defense Ministry said, saying it aims to encircle Ukrainian troops.

She detailed the manner in which Russian forces took part in the attack on Soledar, stressing that air strikes were crucial to the campaign and claiming that her troops conducted a special “covert manoeuvre”.

This appeared to be in response to repeated statements by Evgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner private military enterprise group, that only his contract troops were on the ground at Soledar and could claim the offensive as their own.

Asked Friday why his perception of the battlefield landscape differed from that of the Russian Defense Ministry, Prigozhin said he would hold off commenting because “the boat is already rocking.” Russian forces control Soledar, Defense Ministry says

Adam Bradshaw

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