Russia claims control of salt mine town Soledar

Soledar has been devastated by Russia’s bombardment, as shown by this satellite image from Tuesday

Russia says it has taken control of Ukrainian salt-mine town Soledar after a months-long battle, calling it an “important” step for its offensive.

The victory would allow Russian troops to cut off Ukrainian supply routes in the nearby larger city of Bakhmut, the defence ministry said.

Ukrainian officials said the fight for Soledar was still going on and accused Russia of “information noise”.

The fighting around Soledar has been some of the bloodiest of the war.

Regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Thursday that 559 civilians including 15 children remained in the town and could not be moved out.

Soledar’s significance for the Russian military is disputed by military analysts because of its relatively small size. But seizing Soledar would likely be hailed as a victory in Moscow after months of failures and setbacks in Russia’s 10-month war.

The US-based think tank Institute for the Study of War said hours earlier that it was likely that Russian forces had captured Soledar, but it did not believe they would then be able to go on to encircle Bakhmut.

Serhiy Cherevatyi, spokesperson for Ukraine’s eastern military command, said Russia had sent its best mercenary fighters and other units to Soledar.

Deputy defence minister, Hanna Malyar, said fighting had been “hot in Soledar overnight”. Ukrainian fighters were “bravely trying to hold the defence”, she added, in what was a difficult stage of the war.

President Volodymyr Zelensky described Soledar, Bakhmut and the wider defence of the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine as the top issue in his nightly address hours earlier.


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