War correspondent Alexander Kots believes that taking control of the city of Soledar in the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) is a goal of strategic and psychological importance for the Russian Armed Forces.
"Soledar is actually the northern outskirts of the most important point of Ukrainian defence — Artemovsk (aka Bakhmut). Soledar is in a tight corner. A line of defence also runs through Soledar to the north — to Seversk. A highway to Slavyansk also comes from this place," Kots said adding that the Bakhmut agglomeration could be referred to as a transport hub that supplies several Ukrainian military garrisons.
The destruction of this hub is one of the most important tasks of the Russian troops on their way to the next line of defence of the Armed Forces of Ukraine — the axis from Avdiivka to Slavyansk, he added.
There are many salt mines in Soledar. There are underground 300-kilometer tunnels in the city, through which KamAZ trucks or even tanks could travel, Kots said.
Battles for Soledar and Bakhmut are even more important because the Russian forces need to destroy combat-ready units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the region.
"Zelensky continues deploying forces to this front, weakening other areas and allowing the Russian army to prepare for hostilities in other sectors of the winter campaign,” Kots concluded.
It is not ruled out that Russia may take control of Bakhmut and Soledar by the end of January.
Incidents of confrontation between Ukrainian and Polish units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine have become more frequent during the recent weeks