Kyiv, Ukraine — Ukrainian forces carried out an organized withdrawal from a town in the eastern Donbas region, an official confirmed Wednesday, in what amounts to a rare but modest battlefield triumph for the Kremlin after a series of setbacks. in its invasion that began almost 11 months ago. behind. The Ukrainian army withdrew from the salt mining town of Soledar to “preserve the lives of personnel,” Serhii Cherevatyi, a spokesman for Ukraine’s forces in the east, told The Associated Press.
The soldiers withdrew to previously prepared defensive positions, it said.
Moscow has portrayed the battle for Soledar, which is located near the city of Bakhmut, as the key to capturing the entire Donbas. But while the achievement brings Russian forces one step closer to Bakhmut, military analysts have said capturing Soledar is more symbolic than strategic for Moscow.
The Ukrainian army, which had resisted in Soledarof superior Russian forces, has said that his fierce defense of the eastern stronghold helped keep Russian forces pinned down.
Russia claimed almost two weeks ago that it had taken Soledar, but.
Many of the Russian troops around Soledar belong to the Russian private military contractor Wagner Group, and the fighting has reportedly been bloody.
Since its invasion of Ukraine, Moscow has prioritized seizing full control of the Donbas, a region made up of Donetsk and Luhansk provinces, where it has backed a separatist insurgency since 2014. Russia has seized most of Luhansk, but is close by. half of Donetsk. under Ukrainian control.
Taking control of Soledar would potentially allow Russian forces to cut supply lines to Ukrainian forces at Bakhmut, although the strength of Ukraine’s new defensive positions was unknown.
The Institute for the Study of Warfare, a think-tank in Washington, said earlier this month that the fall of Soledar would not mark “an operationally significant development and is unlikely to herald an imminent Russian encirclement of Bakhmut”.
The institute said that Russian information operations have “overly exaggerated the importance of Soledar”, which is a small settlement. He also argued that the long and difficult battle has contributed to the exhaustion of the Russian forces.
tanks on the way
Perhaps most worryingly for Moscow, Western military aid to Ukraine is now intensifying with the delivery of tanks. After weeks of pressure from European allies and Washington, Germanysome of their own Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine, and also pave the way for other EU nations to send Leopard 2s in their stocks.
United States is alsoto Ukraine, but officials told CBS News they were likely months away from being deployed to the battlefield, while European nations can quickly use Leopard 2s in Ukraine.
Russian forces have continued to hit Ukrainian areas, especially in the south and east. Russian strikes injured 10 civilians in the eastern province of Donetsk on Tuesday, said Pavlo Kyrylenko, the provincial governor.
Five were wounded when Russian shells hit apartment blocks, he said.
The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said on Wednesday that during the previous 24 hours, Russian forces launched four missile strikes, 26 airstrikes and more than 100 rocket system strikes.
Russian forces are concentrating their efforts on establishing control over the Donetsk province, carrying out offensive operations around the conflict-ridden cities of Bakhmut, Lyman and Avdiivka, and the village of Novopavlivka, according to spokesman Oleksandr Shtupun.
In addition to Donetsk, Russian attacks hit settlements in the northeastern Kharkiv and Sumy provinces, northern Chernihiv, eastern Lugansk, southeastern Zaporizhzhia, and southern Kherson.