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Two weeks after the announcement of the capture of Soledar by Moscow, the Ukrainian army finally admitted on Wednesday that it had ceded the eastern city, near Bakhmout, to the Russians.
The city of Soledar has indeed been ceded to Russian forces, the Ukrainian army admitted on Wednesday January 25, two weeks after the announcement of its capture by Moscow.
“After months of difficult fighting (…), the Ukrainian armed forces left it” to “retreat to prepared positions”, military spokesman for the eastern zone, Serguiï Tcherevaty, told AFP. , refusing however to specify when this retreat had taken place.
The Russian paramilitary group Wagner announced that it had taken Soledar on January 11, followed by the Russian army on January 13. This small town in the Donetsk region of 11,000 inhabitants before the war, known for its salt mines, is located near Bakhmout, another hot spot in Eastern Ukraine.
A disputed strategic importance
The Ukrainians had so far refused to recognize the loss of the city.
The strategic importance of Soledar has been disputed, with the American think tank Institute for the Study of War (ISW) believing that its capture did not represent “an operationally significant development”.
The Russian army, on the other hand, presents the conquest of Soledar as a key step to encircle the neighboring city of Bakhmout, which it has been seeking to capture since the summer and where both sides are facing heavy losses.
>> To read also: “War in Ukraine: why Moscow wants to conquer Soledar at all costs”
Soledar’s retreat was “controlled, no encirclement or massive capture of our soldiers took place”, for his part assured Serguiï Tcherevaty, who denied any “leak” of Ukrainian soldiers.
Before retreating, the Ukrainian troops “inflicted incredible losses” on the Russians, he further assured, stressing that the Ukrainian strategy in this area was to “wear out the enemy”.
A Russian occupation official in eastern Ukraine claimed responsibility for an advance by Russian troops in Bakhmout on Wednesday, citing the capture of Soledar as a key factor.
According to Serguiï Tcherevaty however, these affirmations “do not correspond to reality”. “Fighting continues. The situation is difficult, but under control,” he added.
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