LUGANSK, January 11. /TASS/. Officers of the Ukrainian armed forces began fleeing the city of Soledar in the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) three days ago, abandoning the personnel surrounded by Russian forces, Vladimir Novikov, codenamed Aalabay and commander of the Troy Russian volunteer special forces unit, told TASS on Wednesday.
On Wednesday night, Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin reported that Soledar, where fighting has continued in recent days, was taken under the control of the Wagner private military company, and that a pocket had formed in the center of the city, where fighting was underway.
On Wednesday, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Lieutenant General Igor Konashenkov said that Russian troops had blocked Soledar from the north and south, and fighting continued in the city.
"As for the withdrawal of troops near Soledar - the officers were the first to leave their personnel, who fled as best they could afterwards. This is a common practice. <...> There is no such practice in the armed forces of Ukraine for officers to stay at the head of their unit until the end. About three days ago, they [the officers] started either fleeing or retreating from the city," he said.
According to Novikov, as soon as the Russian intelligence detects the redeployment or retreat of officers from a populated area to which Russian troops are actively advancing, it becomes clear that the Ukrainian army "gives up on these positions". "They have been doing this consistently since 2014. As soon as ‘things get a bit too hot’, attempts begin to evacuate the officership," he noted.
Earlier, Yan Gagin, a military-political expert from the DPR, told TASS that there were many mobilized Ukrainians among the servicemen captured during the fight for Soledar. According to Rodion Miroshnik, former ambassador of the Lugansk People's Republic in Moscow, Ukrainian troops have lost about 25,000 people in the battles for Soledar and these losses are irreparable.