The battle for Soledar
The battle for Soledar, a small salt-mining town in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, has become a critical step in Moscow’s goal of encircling the key city of Bakhmut. Fierce and deadly fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces has intensified in recent weeks as the one-year anniversary of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine approaches.
Russia has claimed to have seized control of most of Soledar, while Ukraine has denied the claim and called it propaganda. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly address from Kyiv on Friday that “the tough battle for Donetsk region continues, the battle for Bakhmut and Soledar, for Kreminna, for other towns and villages in the east of our country continues.”
The fight for Soledar has taken a heavy toll on both Russian and Ukrainian forces. It is believed that Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman and ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, may have been motivated by the prospect of gaining access to the nearby salt and gypsum mines. He has not held back from criticism of the efforts of the top brass of the Russian military.
A video taken by a drone and posted on the Telegram channel of the State Border Service of Ukraine displays the Ukrainian military in a victorious battle against the well-known Wagner Group. Verification of the footage by an independent source has not been possible for Insider.
The conflict has also highlighted the increasingly toxic rivalries and dysfunctional relationships between the Russian defence ministry leadership and the Wagner group’s founder, Prigozhin. As fighting on the ground continues, so it has between different Russian political factions.
Control of Soledar will only be a stepping stone towards the much bigger prize of nearby Bakhmut, one of the last big cities in Donetsk oblast that has not been captured by Russia. Ukrainian forces remain firmly in control of the city and it is yet to be seen if Russia will be successful in its efforts.
0. “Why Russia Wants to Capture Soledar, a Ukrainian Mining Town | Time” TIME, 13 Jan. 2023, https://time.com/6247364/soledar-ukraine-russia/
1. “Why Russia is fighting so hard for Ukraine’s Bakhmut” The Hill, 13 Jan. 2023, https://thehill.com/policy/defense/3811298-why-russia-is-fighting-so-hard-for-ukraines-bakhmut/
2. “Live updates: Russia's war in Ukraine” CNN, 16 Jan. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/europe/live-news/russia-ukraine-war-news-1-16-23/h_17c107ac9d10b0cd4b9cde09da1074d3
3. “Ukraine war: the bloody battle for Soledar and what it tells us about the future of the conflict” The Conversation, 12 Jan. 2023, https://theconversation.com/ukraine-war-the-bloody-battle-for-soledar-and-what-it-tells-us-about-the-future-of-the-conflict-197625
4. “WATCH: Ukraine forces ambush Russian Wagner unit with lethal crossfire” Business Insider, 14 Jan. 2023, https://www.businessinsider.com/watch-ukraine-forces-ambush-russian-wagner-unit-with-lethal-crossfire-2023-1
5. “‘Hellish’ battle for Soledar symbolises state of Russia’s war in Ukraine” The Guardian, 13 Jan. 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/jan/13/hellish-battle-soledar-symbolises-russia-war-ukraine