Summary of Russia’s war in Ukraine on January 11, 2023

A shelling strike on a factory in the town of Soledar, in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, on May 24. (Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images)

Fighting in Soledar, a salt mine town in eastern Ukraine, continued on Wednesday despite Russia claiming it has taken control of the region.

Should Russian troops take the city, it would be Moscow’s first victory in Donbas for months, which could be good news for President Vladimir Putin after a series of battlefield defeats that have been happening since last summer.

The importance of Soledar in military terms is minimal. However, its capture would allow Russian forces, and especially the Wagner mercenary group, to focus on nearby Bakhmut, which has been a target since the summer.

The Donetsk town of Soledar has been a central target of Russian forces since last May. With a pre-war population of about 10,000, it has little strategic value in itself, but it is a way point in the attrition of the Russians to the west. Moscow has been trying for months to attack Bakhmut from the east, but if he were to capture Soledar, he could at least approach the city by a different route.

The Russian armed forces have had nothing to celebrate since the beginning of July, having to withdraw from both Kharkiv in the north and Kherson in southern Ukraine.

The taking of Soledar, despite its now dilapidated state, would therefore be unusual progress. But it would be more symbolic than substantive. The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) asserted that control of Soledar “will not necessarily allow Russian forces to exercise control over critical Ukrainian land lines of communication to Bakhmut,” the top prize.

“Even taking at face value the more generous Russian claims, the capture of Soledar would not herald an immediate encirclement by Bakhmut,” the think tank added.

But Soledar is of enormous importance to one man: the oligarch and leader of the Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin. His Wagner fighters, many of them former prisoners, have suffered heavy casualties in wave after wave of ground assaults on what has become a battlefield of trenches and mud reminiscent of World War I. After months in which the Russian Defense Ministry has done nothing but back down, Prigozhin is eager to show that his men deliver.

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button