The fighting continues in Soledar, with its old salt mine, and it is violent. It is the Ukrainian authorities who affirm it, while the Russian offensive intensifies on this small town in Donbass. On the Russian side, the leader of the Wagner group, in the front line in this battle, claims to have taken control of this territory. However, he acknowledged that fighting continued in some areas of the city.
Soledar has yet to surrender, reports Daniel Vallot, journalist at the international service of RFI. At least that’s what several Ukrainian sources said on Wednesday, January 11, as reports of a Russian victory multiplied on social networks, he adds. According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, the Russians tried to completely take over the city, but without success.
On the Russian side, information from the Wagner group is somewhat contradictory. Evgueni Prigojine claims to have taken control of the locality, but specifies that Ukrainian units continue to resist in certain areas. The leader of the paramilitary group had his photo taken with armed fighters in underground galleries presented as those located under the city.
►Read again: Ukraine: the Russian paramilitary group Wagner claims control of the town of Soledar
Caution in the Kremlin
In Moscow, the Kremlin is much more cautious: before declaring victory, it must ” wait for official statements “says in substance Dmitry Peskov, the spokesperson for the Russian presidency.
Doubtless wishing to avoid that the Wagner group is the only one to benefit from this announced victory, the first for Russia since July, the Russian Ministry of Defense for its part declared that airborne forces have taken up position in the north and south of the Ukrainian city, and that assault forces are fighting in the heart of the city.
Once known for its salt mines, Soledar is located near the larger town of Bakhmout, which the Ukrainians have been fiercely defending for several months. The Wagner group, in particular, tries to stifle the Ukrainian forces, by waves of repeated attacks, very expensive in men, says Vincent Tourret, researcher at the University of Montreal, interviewed by Frank Alexanderdefense specialist at RFI.
The Russians, they don’t have enough drones, they don’t have enough satellites, they don’t have enough planes to be able to recon enemy positions. So what they do is they compensate with human waves: prisoners, personnel considered to be of little value, therefore expendable… And they send these waves, in fact, to reconnoiter the Ukrainian positions, which are forced to fire and therefore, which are then identifiable for the Russian artillery…
Vincent Tourret, researcher at the University of Montreal
A front far from being frozen
To the west of Soledar, a hill provides a view of the mining town below. The plumes of smoke, here and there, signal the bitterness of these fights giving pride of place to the artillery, relate our special envoys on the spot, Aabla Jounaidi and Boris Vicith.
There is no sense in taking Soledar. Because if they then go out to advance towards the other territories, our men would be in overhang. If the Russians push from the mines to seize Bakhmout, they will be expensive.
Report: in Soledar, “the situation is not stable, it is increasingly difficult”