MOSCOW, January 9. /TASS/. A massive retreat of Ukrainian troops from urban areas has been noted in Soledar in the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR), Spokesman for the LPR People’s Militia Ivan Filiponenko told the Rossiya-24 TV channel on Monday.
"In Soledar, we are seeing a massive flight of the enemy from urban areas. The main defense of Ukrainian troops in this sector consisted of the 61st separate mechanized brigade. According to our intelligence data, the brigade’s commander under the nickname of "Skier" has instructed subordinate battalion commanders to organize a retreat of remaining and surviving units from the city beginning in the evening and during the night," he said.
The official noted that it was planned to leave Soledar as discreetly as possible "in order not to attract the attention of other units deployed in the same responsibility zone." "However, the flight of the units did not go unnoticed. And there are instances of growing panic," he added.
Claims by Ukrainian officials that new forces will soon be redeployed to the Artyomovsk front, to Soledar in particular, are an attempt to convince their own troops that a planned rotation is underway in this sector and prevent a massive flight that this organized retreat has already morphed into, the spokesman said.
"Currently, Ukraine’s military and political leadership is trying to convey the notion to their units in this sector that this is not a decampment, and that this is a planned rotation and they will be replaced by reinforcements at any moment. Well, this is their common practice - to keep convincing their troops until the last moment that they are not surrounded and not retreating. And in the end it turns out - this has happened before - that these troops find themselves precisely surrounded and either surrender or are completely wiped out," Filiponenko said.
On January 7, Vitaly Kiselev, an aide to the interior minister of the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) said that in the near future, Ukrainian troops may leave Soledar and its surrounding communities.