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13 Jan, 2023 10:39

Strategic Donbass town of Soledar fully liberated – MOD

The victory is key to a further "successful offensive," the Russian military has said
Strategic Donbass town of Soledar fully liberated – MOD

Russian forces have taken full control of the strategic Donbass town of Soledar, Moscow’s Defense Ministry confirmed on Friday. The news comes after Russian private military company Wagner Group claimed this week that its fighters had already overrun the Ukrainian-held settlement and were clearing its vast underground tunnel network.

The city had a pre-conflict population of around 10,500. It is part of Russia’s Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), but had been held by Ukrainian troops since 2014, when the DPR seceded from the country following a coup in Kiev. The DPR became part of Russia after holding a referendum in September.

“The liberation of Soledar was completed on the evening of January 12,” the Defense Ministry said during its daily briefing. The MOD added that the town is “important for the continuation of successful offensive actions.”

According to the Defense Ministry, airborne troops blocked off Soledar from the north and the south, while aircraft and artillery carried out “concentrated strikes” on Ukrainian troops holed up there.

The Wagner Group shared videos this week of its soldiers on the streets of Soledar and inside its underground tunnels.

The MOD said the capture of the stronghold makes possible the cutting of supply lines to Ukrainian forces holding Artyomovsk, a bastion to the southwest of Soledar, which Kiev renamed Bakhmut.

Both sides have reported heavy fighting near Artyomovsk in recent months. It is an important logistics hub for Kiev’s troops in Donbass, which use it to resupply the frontline. For Russian soldiers, meanwhile, the capture of Artyomovsk would open a path to other Ukrainian-controlled towns, such as Slavyansk and Seversk.