‘Good Portion’ of Soledar under Russia control: US official
The United States says Russia a large chunk of the town of Soledar under its control in light of the push for Bakhmut.
The United States assesses that a good portion of the DPR city of Soledar is now controlled by the Russian armed forces, a senior US Defense Department official said on Monday, noting that the warring sides continued to fight in the key strategic town.
"We do think that there is a good portion of Soledar that the Russians have in their hands and the Ukrainians do as well. And these [artillery] exchanges are savage," the official told a press briefing.
️🇷🇺🇺🇦 Soledar direction— Rybar in English (@rybar_en) January 9, 2023
Situation as of 15:00 Kyiv Time, January 9, 2023 pic.twitter.com/Vd7VHkYbtq
According to the official, Bakhmut, which is located seven kilometers away from Soledar, has also become a field of "severe and savage" fighting, with the two sides shelling it with thousands of artillery rounds.
The Defense Staff of the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) said earlier in the day that Russian forces had taken over the village of Bakhmutskoe near Soledar and northeast of Bakhmut.
🇷🇺⚔️💥 🔥 🇺🇦 Fighting in Soledar,where the fighters of the "Wagner" PMCs seek to take control of the city administration— AZ 🛰🌏🌍🌎 (@AZgeopolitics) January 9, 2023
Video from the Ukrainian side. pic.twitter.com/4iZdz3Ow50
Both key towns are located in the Kiev-controlled part of the DPR, which became part of the Russian Federation in September following popular referenda in the region, alongside other neighboring regions.
Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that the people living in the DPR, the Lugansk People's Republic, Kherson, and Zaparozhye "have become [Russian] citizens forever. I want people in Kiev and their real owners to listen to me; we call on Kiev to enter an immediate ceasefire to end the war they initiated back in 2014."
Bakhmut has been an important transport hub for supplying the Ukrainian troops in the Donbass in light of the Ukraine war.
It is noteworthy that a few days ago, a US official confirmed during a press briefing on Wednesday that the Russian army has made "gradual progress in the city of Bakhmut," located on the western outskirts of the Donetsk region.
He added, "There is still fierce fighting, as the Ukrainians continue to fight, and the Russians, in turn, continue to make gradual progress there," suggesting that "fighting will continue along the line in Donetsk in the foreseeable future."
The situation in Bakhmut
Russian forces proceed to advance toward the densely populated areas of the city after they succeeded more than a month ago in tightening their siege on the Ukrainian forces present there, and they continue to bombard their positions with missiles and artillery.
Western media have been speaking about the Battle of Bakhmut for over a month now, in which Kiev's allies fear that Russian control over it will be a key to the collapse of the entire front in the hands of the Russian forces during the harsh winter, while Russian sources confirm that the Ukrainian forces and mercenaries suffer heavy losses in lives and equipment.
Read more: Russia says eliminated +130 foreign mercenaries, 90 troops in Ukraine
The Ukrainian forces suffer greatly from the difficulty of transferring personnel to the city, due to the harsh weather conditions on the one hand, and also because they were forced to withdraw reinforcements from the Zaporozhye and Svatove fronts, to reinforce the combat group in Bakhmut.
With this last option, Ukraine's forces would weaken their positions in other cities and be forced to sacrifice their capabilities in those directions and throw all their reserve forces in an attempt to block the Russian advance.