Ukraine forces pull back from Donbas town after onslaught

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian forces have made an orderly retreat from a town in the eastern Donbass region, an official said Wednesday, an unusual but minor military victory for the Kremlin after several setbacks in the offensive. . Which started about 11 months ago.

Ukrainian forces withdrew from the salt-mining town of Solydar “to save the lives of personnel,” Serhiy Chirivati, a spokesman for Ukrainian forces in the east, told The Associated Press.

He said the soldiers went back to pre-arranged defensive positions.

Moscow sees the Battle of Soledar, located near the city of Bakhmut, as the key to capturing all of Donbas.

The victory brings Russian forces one step closer to Bakhmut, but military analysts say the capture of Soledar is more symbolic than strategic.

Ukraine’s military, which has fought off a month-long offensive by superior Russian forces in Soledar, has said its fierce defense of its eastern bastion has helped pin down Russian forces.

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Russia claimed about two weeks ago that it had taken Soledar, but Ukraine denied this.

Many of Russia’s troops around Soledar belong to the private Russian military contractor Wagner Group, and the fighting has reportedly been bloody.

Since the invasion of Ukraine, Moscow has prioritized full control of the Donbass — a region comprising Donetsk and Luhansk provinces, where it has supported a separatist insurgency since 2014. Under the control of Ukraine.

Taking control of the town would likely allow Russian forces to cut supply lines to Ukrainian forces in Bakhmut, although the strength of the new Ukrainian defensive positions was unknown.

The Institute for the Study of War, a think tank in Washington, said earlier this month that the fall of Solidar “will not make significant practical progress and is unlikely to prevent a Russian encirclement near Bakhmut.” Is.”

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The institute said Russian information operations had “overstated the importance of Solidar,” a small settlement. He also argued that the long and difficult war had contributed to the exhaustion of the Russian forces.

Perhaps more worryingly for Moscow, Western military support for Ukraine is now being boosted with the supply of tanks.

Elsewhere, Russian forces have continued to attack areas of Ukraine, particularly in the south and east.

Provincial Governor Pavlo Kirilenko said 10 civilians were wounded in Russian attacks in eastern Donetsk province on Tuesday.

He said five were injured when Russian shells fell on the apartment blocks.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said on Wednesday that over the past 24 hours, Russian forces have launched four missile strikes, 26 airstrikes and more than 100 strikes from rocket salvo systems.

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According to spokesman Oleksandr Shtupun, Russian forces are focusing their efforts on establishing control over Donetsk province, conducting offensives around the war-torn cities of Bakhmut, Leman and the villages of Ivodyuka and Novopalyuk.

In addition to Donetsk, Russian attacks targeted settlements in the country’s northeastern Kharkiv and Sumy, northern Chernihiv, eastern Luhansk, southeastern Zaporizhia, and southern Kherson provinces.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who went from being a professional comedian to an internationally recognized warlord, turned 45 on Wednesday.

His wife, First Lady Olena Zelenska, said that although he is the same person as when they met at 17, “something has changed: you smile less now.”

“I wish you had more reasons to smile. And you know what it takes. We all do,” he wrote in a tweet.


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