Russia takes control of Soledar with the help of PMC Wagner

PMC Wagner and Russian forces take and cleanse Soledar

Fighters of Russian Airborne Forces (known fore the Russian initials as VDV) blocked the city of Soledar from the north and from the south, the Defence Ministry said.

"VDV units blocked Soledar from northern and southern sides of the city. The Russian Aerospace Forces are striking enemy strongholds. Assault detachments are fighting in the city,” the Defence Ministry noted, adding that about 80 Ukrainian servicemen were killed during the storming operations. A tank and three armoured vehicles were also destroyed.

The Defence Ministry also said that the Russian forces took control of the settlement of Podgorodnoye in the DPR.

"In the Donetsk direction, in the course of successful offensive operations, the Russian troops liberated the settlement of Podgorodnoye of the Donetsk People's Republic,” the ministry said thus confirming reports from territorial defence headquarters of the DPR about Russia's control over the village.

PMC Wagner says it took control of Soledar without Rusian army's help

Meanwhile, PMC Wagner announced the capture of the city of Soledar in the Donetsk People's Republic. Representatives for the private military company said that Wagner fighters managed to do it on their own.

The Defence Ministry of the Russian Federation said in response that it also participated in the assault.

Bakhmut and Soledar are mining towns situated in the Donetsk region. The fighting for the cities has been going on since August. The Russian Armed Forces have been trying to break through Ukrainian defences since that time, but the fighting for the two towns has become more intense during the recent weeks.

The battles for Bakhmut and Soledar have become probably the bloodiest of all battles that the special operation has seen so far. Media already compare the fighting in the Bakhmut direction with the Battle of Verdun during the years of WWI. The Battle of Verdun was so bloody it went down in history as meat grinder. A Ukrainian soldier said in a recent interview with CNN that no one was counting the dead in Soledar because of their number.

On January 9, PMC Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin stated that his fighters had broken through to the centre of Soledar and were conducting "fierce battles" for the administration building there. The following day, he announced the capture of the entire territory of the city. Prigozhin's press service published a photo of him surrounded by PMC Wagner fighters all standing in what appeared to be a salt mine.

According to Grey Zone Telegram channel (this channel is associated with PMC Wagner), active battles for the city lasted for four months, but the defense of the Armed Forces of Ukraine "did not give in” to regular Russian troops and they were eventually withdrawn from the area. PMC Wagner fighters were sent there instead, and they took Soledar in a little more than than two weeks, the channel said.

On the evening of January 10, DPR's acting head Denis Pushilin also stated that PMC Wagner fighters took the centre of Soledar.

The position of the Defence Ministry of the Russian Federation

On the afternoon of January 11, after PMC Wagner announced the capture of the city, the Defence Ministry announced that the Russian Armed Forces were also participating in the operation. According to the report from the ministry, airborne units blocked Soledar from northern and southern directions, airborne forces "are striking enemy strongholds,” and assault squads are "fighting in the city.”

Apty Alaudinov, the Commander of Akhmat unit of special forces, commented on the situation and said that the Russian forces are now clearing Soledar. According to Alaudinov, the city can be considered taken. According to his statement, PMC Wagner, together with paratroopers, are fighting in the Bakhmut area as the Ukrainians still hold the defence of the city.

Soledar is located about 75 km north of Donetsk and about 10 km north of the city of Artemovsk (the Ukrainian name of the city is Bakhmut). Fierce battles are going on in the area of Bakhmut and Soledar: in early December, the Russian Defence Ministry announced an offensive in this area and said that the Russian forces took control of several settlements. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in early December that the Soledar direction was "one of the hottest and most painful” ones for the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

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Author`s name Petr Ermilin
Editor Dmitry Sudakov