Putin on brink of first battlefield breakthrough for months in Soledar

Ukrainian forces have been stubbornly defending Soledar from Russian assaults for months, but the battle looks to be shifting in the Kremlin’s favor. The UK’s Ministry of Defense acknowledged on Tuesday the Russian forces, including Wagner mercenaries, were “likely in control of most” of Soledar. The town is important given the protection it provides for Bakhmut which lies seven miles to the southwest and is a clear target for the Russian military. Wagner and Russian regulars have been grinding down Ukrainian positions around Bakhmut with the horrific causality rate leading the battle to be termed the “Bakhmut meatgrinder.” Taking Soledar would allow Russia to move to encircle Bakhmut cutting off supplies to the defenders. In turn, the fall of Bakhmut would penetrate the Ukrainian line of defense and open up key cities such as Kramatorsk and Sloviansk to Russian attack. A total of 10,000 people lived in Soledar before the war with the town famous for its massive abandoned salt mine that sprawled for 125 miles underground. Wagner boss Yevgenny Prigozhin has hinted that Russian forces could look to turn the mine’s tunnels into a giant makeshift base. Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky said in a speech on Monday: “The occupiers have now concentrated their greatest efforts on Soledar, I thank all the warriors of Soledar who withstand new and even tougher attacks of the occupiers. “It is extremely difficult. There are almost no whole walls left.”


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