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FACTBOX: What is known about the fight for Soledar

According to Acting Head of the Donetsk People’s Republic Denis Pushilin, downtown Soledar is already under the control of Russian forces

MOSCOW, January 11. /TASS/. Russian Airborne Troops blocked the city of Soledar from the north and south, with fighting going on inside the city itself, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov told reporters Wednesday.

According to Acting Head of the Donetsk People’s Republic Denis Pushilin, downtown Soledar is already under the control of Russian forces. Earlier on Tuesday, businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin announced that fighters from the Wagner PMC control the entire Soledar territory.

TASS has collected the latest reports about the fight for the city.

What is going on in Soledar

- On Tuesday, Pushilin claimed that Soledar’s city center had been taken under control by Russian forces, who were already conducting a mop-up operation in the Western part of the city.

- Later, Prigozhin claimed that the Wagner PMC controls the entire city, with a cauldron (pocket) in the city center. He promised to provide the number of captured Ukrainian servicemen later.

- According to Apti Alaudinov, commander of the ‘Akhmat’ special forces unit and deputy commander of the LPR People’s Militia 2nd Army Corps, it will be possible to talk about the total liberation of Soledar by late Wednesday or on Thursday at the latest. The remaining Ukrainian forces in the city "will not be able to change anything anymore," he said.

- Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov urged reporters to wait for official statements on Soledar, but noted the "positive dynamic" of the special military operation.

- The Russian Defense Ministry refrained from announcing the liberation of the city on Wednesday: according to the Ministry, Airborne Troops blocked the city both from the north and south, with air strikes attacking strongholds inside the city, where assault teams were fighting.

How the fighting went on

- Russian forces entered Soledar in August of 2022. In November, LPR People’s Militia representative Andrey Marochko said that Ukrainian forces had to abandon offensive action and switch to total defense due to heavy losses.

- In December, Kiev sent reinforcements to the city. In particular, Marochko reported that foreign mercenaries with NATO weapons were sent to Soledar.

- However, in early January, the LPR reported a massive retreat of Ukrainian forces from the urban area. On January 7, Vitaly Kiselyov, aide to the regional Minister of the Interior, said that Ukrainian forces were ordered to retreat from Soledar.

Situation around Soledar

- Currently, Russian forces are fighting for Artyomovsk, or Bakhmut, located south of Soledar. According to Alaudinov, fighters from the Wagner PMC "took ‘all logistics routes’ in this city under control."

- On Wednesday, the Russian Defense Ministry reported the liberation of the nearby settlement of Podgorodnoye.

What’s next

- According to Pushilin, the liberation of Soledar will increase Russian forces’ ability to take control of Artyomovsk and Seversk, which will open the path towards Slavyansk and Kramatorsk - the largest Donbass cities currently under Kiev’s control.

- He noted that Russian forces are destroying Ukrainian defensive lines, adding that a "breaking point for liberation of the entire Donetsk People’s Republic is being prepared."

- Pushilin’s advisor, military expert Yan Gagin called Soledar a "key to the liberation of Donbass" in an interview for TASS, adding that control over the city is a strategic victory for Russian forces. According to Gagin, about 500 Ukrainian servicemen, who could possibly have been "left there unintentionally," may remain in the city.