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Soledar – where is it and why is it so important for Ukraine and Russia. How the fighting for this city in the Donetsk region is going

Soledar – where is it and why is it so important for Ukraine and Russia.  How the fighting for this city in the Donetsk region is going

Soledar – where is it and why is it so important for Ukraine and Russia. How the fighting for this city in the Donetsk region is going

Fierce fighting is taking place over Sołedar in eastern Ukraine. Experts say that the Russian army wants to capture it in order to control another key city in the Donetsk region – Bakhmut. Another reason for the concentration of such huge aggressor forces in this region, mainly composed of mercenaries of the Wagner Group, are political and propaganda issues. “Putin will finally get something that he can bring to the Russians,” explained Ukrainian expert Oleh Zhdanov. The salt mine tunnels in Sołedar may also be of strategic importance for the army.

Russian and Ukrainian forces are engaged in intense fighting for Soledar in eastern Ukraine in the Donetsk Oblast of the region Donbass. Capturing the city has been the goal of Russian forces since May last year, and since September the Kremlin has claimed that Donetsk Oblast is part of Russian territory. Such a narrative is maintained after using illegal and unrecognized by the international community “referenda” It was decided to include the Donetsk region and three other regions into the aggressor state.

Soledar is located in the east of UkraineLibkos/Associated Press/East News

Sołedar – how the fights are going

The Russian troops were given the task of capturing the city by taking it halfway from the south. the Russians In 1911, the town of Bachmutske was captured there, and later the Wagnerians entered Sołedar from the south-east and east. The Russian army managed to break through to the center of Soledar, but was quickly driven out. We do not intend to surrender the city – reported on Tuesday Ukrainian military expert Colonel Roman Svitan during a broadcast on the channel of the Russian oppositionist Mikhail Khodorkovsky on the YouTube platform.

ISW map showing the situation on the Donbas front (as of 11/01/23). In blue, areas recaptured by Ukrainians, in pink, areas controlled by Russians, in yellow, territories captured by the aggressor Institute of War Studies (HEI)

As he added, the Ukrainian garrison in Soledar has been strengthened, and additional motorized infantry units are being deployed there. According to Switan, the fighting is currently taking place in an area equal to about 1/3 of Sołedar, but in the near future the enemy’s assault on this city should be stopped.

War in Ukraine. Tvn24.pl report from January 11, 2023 >>>

"Our city used to be so beautiful".  Russian shelling interrupted an interview in Bakhmut

“Our city used to be so beautiful.” Russian shelling interrupted an interview in BakhmutReuters

Sołedar captured by Russia? Contradictory messages from Moscow and Kiev

Russian statements about the capture of Soledar are not true, the spokesman of the Eastern Group of Armed Forces said on Wednesday Ukraine Serhiy Cherevaty, quoted by the Suspilne portal. Over the past several hours, Kremlin propaganda media reported that the town was supposedly under the control of the aggressor’s troops.

Ukraine’s deputy defense minister, Hanna Malar, wrote in a Wednesday comment on the Telegram website that “after suffering losses, the enemy once again rotated his troops.” “By increasing the number of ‘Wagnerians’, he is trying to break the defense of our troops and completely occupy the city, but to no avail,” wrote the deputy minister. According to her words, “heavy fighting is taking place in Sołedar”.

Destruction in SołedarReuters/Ukrainian Land Forces

Sołedar and Bakhmut – what is the relationship between these cities?

Soledar is located less than 10 kilometers northeast of the city of Bakhmut, where fighting has been going on for months in one of the bloodiest clashes of the war. If Russia manages to capture Soledar, it will probably be able to use this position to intensify its attack on Bakhmut. She could also try to attack Ukraine’s rear positions there to encircle the city.

Bakhmut and Soledar are related. If one of these cities falls, the other will be half surrounded – assessed the Ukrainian expert Oleh Zhdanov in an interview with the Polish Press Agency. He added that the enemy forces are trying to gain fire control over the Bachmut-Siewiersk and Bakhmut-Sloviansk routes that run near the city.

At the same time, he stated that “at this point, the occupation of Sołedar is not important for the front, for the war, but for politics.” – (Vladimir Putin eventually he will get something with which he can go to the Russians – he added.

Ukrainian soldiers near Bakhmut shelled Russian positions with Soviet anti-aircraft guns

Ukrainian soldiers near Bakhmut shelled Russian positions with Soviet anti-aircraft guns Footage from January 10, 2023Reuters

– Sołedar is located in a depression. After its capture, the Russians themselves will find themselves in a more difficult position, because the Ukrainians will retreat to higher positions, commented Mariusz Cielma, editor-in-chief of “Nowa Techniki Wojskowa” in an interview with PAP. In his opinion, the capture of Sołedar does not necessarily mean that Bakhmut will also fall.

The Wagner Group in Sołedar

In the region of Bakhmut and Soledar, the Russian side has been attacking mainly with mercenary forces from Wagner groupsusing the method, as Ukrainian soldiers say, of “body throwing” and massive artillery attacks. Over 10,000 members of this formation were thrown there.

According to Russian media Yevgeny Prigozhin – the head of this private military company, who became one of the key players in the Russian aggression against Ukraine, treats the Battle of Bakhmut as an important element of the competition for influence in Russia. Success – the first for Russia in many months – would give him an important asset in his undisclosed rivalry with the Ministry of Defense and the general staff.

Sołedar.  Ukrainians fire from the German PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzer

Sołedar. Ukrainians fire from the German PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzerReuters

Salt mine tunnels in Sołedar

Soledar is also home to the huge salt mines owned by the state-owned company Artemsil, which dominated the Ukrainian market until production ceased a few months after Russia launched a full-scale invasion. Since the mine was founded at the end of the 19th century, the company has produced over 280 million tons of salt. According to a local tourist website, the mines are 200-300 meters deep and have tunnels with a total length of 300 kilometers. The company was once considered one of the largest in Eastern Europe and exported salt to 20 countries.

Salt mines can be treated as commercially lucrative assets, and they can also be used to store ammunition and weapons beyond the range of Ukrainian missiles.

SEE ALSO: Head of the Wagner Group Yevgeny Prigozhin: We must have Bakhmut because of the underground cities

Main photo source: Libkos/Associated Press/East News

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