The Postedia

Salt mines, Wagner’s mercenaries and a fierce battle: the battle for the small Ukrainian town of Soledar

Russian forces are stepping up their assault on Ukrainian positions around the devastated eastern city of Bakhmut in a bitter and costly battle that has raged for months. The main and hot spot for the fighting is the small town of Soledar, which Russian forces are trying to capture, and Kiev admits that the situation is “extremely difficult”.

Soledar, a salt-mining town in the Donetsk region with a pre-war population of around 10,000, is seen mainly as a springboard for efforts to recapture nearby devastated Bakhmut, where fighting remains fierce.

“What did Russia want to get there? Everything is completely destroyed. There is almost no life left,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a speech late on Monday night. “All the land near Soledar is covered with the corpses of the occupiers and the scars of the attacks. Such is madness.” Amid speculation that he may be preparing public opinion to lose the city, Ukrainian resistance in Soledar has given Kiev “more time and more power,” according to Zelensky.

Denis Pushlin, the leader of the Moscow-backed Donetsk region, said on Tuesday that Russian forces were “very close” to taking Soledar, but at a “very high price”, he said.

A spokesman for the eastern command of Ukraine’s armed forces admitted that the situation in the city was “very difficult” – he described it as “the most difficult on the eastern front” – and explained that it had been hit 86 times. by Russian artillery in the last 24 hours, reports the agency Ukrinform. As he pointed out, Russian military methods involve achieving small tactical victories at the cost of huge losses.

In its latest intelligence assessment, out this Tuesday, the UK Ministry of Defense indicates that over the past four days, Russian forces have made tactical advances in Soledar and are believed to be in control of most of the city.

Soledar is about 10 kilometers north of Bakhmut, the capture of which, according to British intelligence, is Russia’s main immediate operational objective. “It is highly likely that Russia’s Soledar axis is an attempt to encircle Bakhmut from the north and disrupt Ukraine’s communication lines,” said London’s assessment.

A peculiarity of the battles near Bakhmut is that some of them took place near the entrances of disused salt mine tunnels, which extend about 200 kilometers below the site. Britain believed that both sides were concerned that the tunnels “could be used to get behind their lines”.

On the other hand, according to various sources, the forces of the Russian private military contractor Wagner Group are playing a major role in the fighting in the area. analysts analytical center The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) believes that the head of the mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is connected to the Kremlin, is using information about the “successes” of Wagner’s group in Soledar “to enhance his reputation as an effective fighting force.

what week A White House source said Prigozhin is interested in taking control Salt and gypsum from the mines, Reuters reported. Prigozhin Acquitted last Saturday The importance of the mines around Bakhmut and Soledar, which he called the “icing on the cake” and which he said act as a “network of underground cities”. Prigozhin added that these mines can place personnel at a depth of 80 to 100 meters and can also allow the movement of tanks and other military vehicles.

Strategic value?

There are those who dispute Bakhmut’s strategic value, although it has symbolic value for both sides. For Moscow, its capture would be the most important success in months. A spokesman for the Eastern Command of Ukraine’s armed forces noted that Russia is concentrating Wagner’s best units there “to show some results” after six months without them.

Soldiers last month Ukrainians are fighting in the district They questioned him guardian The strategic value of Bakhmut. “The only strategy I see at the moment is that they want to take the city to gain some kind of victory after a year of suffering so many losses,” a member of Ukraine’s 24th Mechanized Brigade told the British.

Oleh Zhdanov, a military analyst in Ukraine, believes that neither Soledar nor Bakhmut is particularly important from an operational point of view. According to an interview given on Monday Ukrainian daily newspaper. Zhdanov claims that Russia is “trying to show the whole world that its army can win.”

During the invasion, Russia sought to seize Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts, territory claimed by pro-Russian separatists and that make up Donbas, in the east of the country. Russia’s eastern offensive captured almost all of Luhansk over the summer, but Donetsk escaped the same fate, and the Russian military has poured resources around Bakhmut, the capture of which could disrupt Kiev’s supply lines and open the way for Russian forces to advance toward Kramatorsk and Sloviansk, Ukraine’s main stronghold in Donetsk.

Fighting around Bakhmut has raged for months, and a senior US defense official recently described it to reporters as “savage,” with back-and-forth battles and trench lines. “We are talking about thousands and thousands of artillery shells that were fired between both sides. In many cases, several thousand artillery shells are changed every day.” As noted this Monday, Washington believes the Russians have a “good chunk” of Soledar, and so do the Ukrainians.

Despite increased Russian pressure on Bakhmut, British intelligence said it was unlikely that Vladimir Putin’s forces would besiege the city because “Ukrainian forces maintain stable defensive lines in depth and control supply routes”.

A Analysis Two leading military analysts, Rob Lee and Michael Coffman, concluded last month that Ukraine’s victories in Kherson and Kharkiv in November and September were largely due to Russian losses in the spring and early summer fighting for the Donbass. “The destroyer enabled the success of maneuver warfare.”

Source: El Diario





related posts

Post List

Hot News