The Russian Defense Ministry said on Friday that its troops had taken control of the city of Soledar in the eastern Donetsk region, although the Ukrainian military later denied this information and assured that the fighting continued.
According to the department headed by Sergei Shoigu, the seizure of the city became effective last night and will cut off supply routes for Ukrainian troops in nearby Bakhmut and encircle Kiev forces in that city.
“The liberation of the city of Soledar was completed on December 12,” ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Igor Konashénkov told the daily War Bulletin.
Konashenkov assured that the capture of the city, which had about 10,000 inhabitants before the fighting and is home to one of the largest salt mines in Europe, is of “great importance for the continuation of offensive operations on the Donetsk front”.
Ukrainian soldiers patrol destroyed vehicles during a battle in Ukraine. Russia assures that Soledar’s fate is sealed but Ukraine denies it.
The report further specified that “during the operations for the liberation of Soledar, units of the Airborne Forces carried out a covert maneuver from a different direction, successfully attacked positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, occupied command heights and blocked the cities from the north and the south”.
Ukraine insists fighting continues
Shortly after Russia concluded operations in Soledar, the Ukrainian military gave assurances that Russian troops did not take the city.
Serhiy Cherevaty, spokesman for the Eastern Group of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, told RBC-Ukraine that “it is not true” that Russian troops have taken the city and that fighting continues there.
“No, that’s not true. Fighting is going on in the city,” said Cherevaty, who declined to elaborate on the situation in Soledar for security reasons.
Cherevaty’s statement came after the official statement from Moscow, which said that Russian troops had taken control of the city on the night of 12 December.
For her part, Deputy Defense Minister Anna Malyar assured that the city was still in the hands of Ukrainian forces at dawn on 13 January.
Russian troops have been trying to take Soledar for the past two weeks to control a strategic city to push into the Donetsk region.
Moreover, according to the Russian side, “over the last three days of fighting in the area alone, more than 700 Ukrainian soldiers and more than 300 military equipment” of the enemy were killed.
Even the founder of the Wagner Group, Yevgueni Prigozhin, announced the control of the strategic city by the mercenaries of that private military company at dawn on 11 January.