Ukraine says it is strengthening its forces around Bakhmut in the eastern Donbass region. And is repelling continued attacks there by the Russia mercenary group Wagner. Whose leader has vowed to seize the region’s vast underground mines.
Ukrainian officials said Kyiv sent reinforcements to Soledar. A small town near Bakhmut where the situation was particularly difficult.
“The enemy again made a desperate attempt to storm the city of Soledar from different directions. And threw the most professional unit of the Wagnerites into battle.” the Ukrainian military said in a statement.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of Wagner’s mercenary group. Has been trying to hold off Bakhmut and Soledar for months at the cost of many lives on both sides. On Saturday, he said, the significance lies in the mine network there.
“It can move not only a large group, but also tanks and infantry fighting vehicles at a depth of 80-100 meters.”
Military analysts say the strategic military advantage for Moscow will be limited. A US official said Prigozhin, a powerful ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was eyeing salt and gypsum from the mine.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said in video remarks on Sunday night that Bakhmut. And Soledar were holding despite the massive destruction after months of attacks.
“Our troops are resisting continuous Russian attempts to advance,” he said. “Things are very difficult” in Solder.
At an evacuation center in nearby Kramatorsk, 60-year-old Olha said. She fled Soledar after going from apartment to apartment as every tank was destroyed in the fighting.
“Last week we couldn’t come out. Everyone was running around, soldiers with automatic weapons, shouting.” Said Olha, who gave only her first name.
“Not a single house here is unscathed,” he said. “The apartments were burning, breaking in half.”
Pro-Russian bloggers quoted Prigogine as saying. That his forces were fighting for the administrative building in Soledar.
Ukraine’s military spokesman in the east, Serhiy Cherevaty, said the situation could stabilize.
“There was a brutal and bloody battle – 106 shots fired in one day,” he said on Ukrainian television.
“Our troops in Soledar have been allocated more forces and means for this purpose. And everything is being done to improve the operational situation.”
Reuters could not verify the battlefield report.
Further north in Kharkiv region, a Russian missile attack on a market in the village of Shevchenkov killed two women. And wounded four others, including a 10-year-old girl, regional prosecutors said.
injured people lay on the ground as rescue workers waded through piles of rubble. Overturned and burning stalls and a large crater, video footage from police. And Ukraine’s presidential office showed. A police officer took a girl with a bloody face from the scene.
The perpetrators were “ordinary terrorists.” Ukrainian presidential chief of staff Andriy Yermak wrote in a telegram. Russia did not immediately comment on reports that Kyiv recaptured the village from Moscow in September.
Zelensky renewed his condemnation of Russia’s failure to observe. The ceasefire announced for Russian Orthodox Christmas on Friday and Saturday.
Ukraine has never agreed to a ceasefire, which it says is a Russian excuse to build up troops. Both sides accused each other of continuing hostilities throughout.
“The Russians were shelling Kherson with incendiary ammunition right after Christmas.” He said, referring to the southern city abandoned by Russian forces in November.
“Attacks on Kramatorsk and other cities in Donbass — targeting civilians. And as Moscow was reporting an alleged ‘quiet’ for its military.”
On Sunday, Russia said a missile strike in Kramatorsk killed 600 Ukrainian soldiers. But a Reuters reporter at the scene found no visible signs of casualties.
A Reuters team visited two college dormitories that Moscow said were housing Ukrainian activists. That killed scores of Russian soldiers and sparked an uproar in Russia.
No dormitories appear to have been hit or damaged. There were no obvious signs of soldiers living there and no sign of dead bodies or traces of blood.
The Kremlin said it was confident its defense ministry was correct. When it said 600 Ukrainian servicemen were “destroyed” in the attack. Ukrainian military spokesman Cherevaty dismissed it as an “information operation”.
As Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine nears its one-year mark. Russia’s military is under domestic pressure to deliver battlefield successes.
Hawkish voices sought to boost the war effort after setbacks such. As the loss of occupied territory and high rates of death and injury. Some pro-Kremlin military bloggers criticized it