Published on: 25.01.2023 – 14:59
Two weeks after Moscow announced its capture, the Ukrainian army admitted on Wednesday January 25 that it had ceded the town of Soledar in the east of the country to the Russians.
The Ukrainians have so far refused to acknowledge the loss of Soledar. “After months of hard struggles […] Ukrainian forces left it to “retreat to prepared positions,” Eastern Zone military spokesman Serguiï Tcherevaty told AFP, but refused to specify the timing of that withdrawal.
Known for its salt mines, this small town in the Donetsk region of pre-war 11,000 people is near Bakhmout, another hotspot in eastern Ukraine.
The Russian paramilitary group Wagner had announced that he had taken Soledar from January 11, followed by the Russian army on 13.
“Use the Enemy”
Soledar’s strategic importance has been disputed, with the American think tank Institute for the Study of War (ISW) saying it was “not an operationally significant development”. The Russian army, on the other hand, presents the capture of Soledar as an important step in encircling the neighboring town of Bakhmout, which it has been attempting to capture since the summer, with both sides suffering heavy casualties.
Soledar’s retreat was “controlled, there was no encirclement or massive capture of our soldiers,” assured Serguiï Tcherevaty, who denied any “leaks” by Ukrainian soldiers. Before withdrawing, Ukrainian troops inflicted “incredible losses” on the Russians, he continued, stressing that the Ukrainian strategy in the area was “to wear down the enemy.”
“The fight goes on”
A Russian occupation official in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday claimed responsibility for an advance by Russian troops in Bakhmout, citing the capture of Soledar as a key factor. However, according to Sergiï Tcherevaty, these claims “do not correspond to reality”. “The fighting continues. The situation is difficult but under control,” he added.