- There are not any standing partitions in Solidar, Zelensky says
- Ukraine says the Wagner Group is sending waves of fighters
- Battle for the cavernous salt mining tunnels beneath town
Kyiv/SIVERSK, Ukraine (Reuters) – Russia has stepped up its aggressive offensive on Soledar in jap Ukraine, forcing Ukrainian forces to fend off waves of assaults led by the Wagner contract militia across the salt-mining city, Kyiv officers mentioned. neighboring fronts.
Solidar, within the industrial Donbass area, lies just some miles from Bakhmut, the place forces on either side have suffered heavy losses in a few of the fiercest trench warfare since Russia invaded Ukraine almost 11 months in the past.
Ukraine’s Deputy Protection Minister Hanna Malyar mentioned Monday on messaging app Telegram that Ukrainian forces had repulsed an earlier try to take the city, however numerous Wagner Group items rapidly returned, deploying new ways and extra troopers underneath cowl of heavy artillery.
“The enemy is actually trampling over the corpses of its troopers utilizing massed artillery, MLRS techniques and mortars,” Maliar mentioned.
Russia’s Protection Ministry didn’t point out Solidar or Bakhmut in a daily briefing on Monday, a day after going through criticism for an apparently false declare of a missile strike on makeshift Ukrainian barracks.
Wagner was based by Yevgeny Prigozhin, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Drawing some recruits from Russian prisons and identified for its relentless violence, it’s lively in conflicts in Africa and has performed a distinguished function in Russia’s struggle effort in Ukraine.
Prigozhin has been making an attempt to seize Bakhmut and Solidar for months, at the price of lives on many sides. On Saturday, he mentioned its significance lies in a community of cavernous underground mining tunnels, which might accommodate giant teams of individuals in addition to tanks and different struggle machines.
Ukrainian navy analyst Oleh Zhdanov mentioned the combating at Behekemut and Solidar “is probably the most intense on your complete entrance line”, with little progress by both facet underneath stalemate circumstances.
“Many (pro-Russian fighters) are nonetheless on the battlefield… both useless or wounded,” he mentioned on YouTube.
“They assault our positions in waves, however as a rule the wounded die the place they lie, both from publicity to extreme chilly or from bleeding. Nobody involves their assist or to gather the useless from the battlefield.”
Reuters was not instantly in a position to confirm the battlefield stories.
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky mentioned in video remarks Monday night time that Bakhmut and Solidar have been nonetheless holding out regardless of the widespread destruction.
He pointed to new and extra ferocious assaults in Solidar, the place, he mentioned, no standing partitions have been left and the bottom was lined with Russian corpses.
“Because of the resilience of our troopers in Solidar, we gained for Ukraine additional time and further power,” Zelensky mentioned. He didn’t state what he meant by gaining time or power.
However Ukrainian officers, led by Commander-in-Chief Common Valery Zaluzhny, have warned that Russia is making ready contemporary forces to launch a brand new main offensive into Ukraine, presumably on the capital Kyiv.
Zelensky additionally seems to be relying on securing extra superior weaponry from Ukraine’s Western companions to fend off assaults and finally drive out Russian forces.
On Monday, he continued the diplomatic efforts, talking to Peter Fiala, the prime minister of the Czech Republic, the present president of the 27-nation European Union.
“I’m positive that our troopers on the entrance will get these weapons and tools. Very quickly,” he mentioned.
France, Germany and the US final week pledged to ship armored combating automobiles, fulfilling a longstanding Ukrainian request. Sky Information reported, quoting a Western supply, that Britain is contemplating supplying tanks to Ukraine for the primary time. The British Ministry of Protection didn’t remark.
White Home Nationwide Safety Adviser Jake Sullivan mentioned Monday that Iran could also be contributing to struggle crimes in Ukraine by supplying drones to Russia.
The USA has imposed sanctions on corporations and other people it accuses of manufacturing or transporting Iranian drones utilized by Russia. The White Home mentioned final week that it was contemplating methods to focus on Iran’s manufacturing of armed drones by sanctions and export controls.
Army analysts say that Russia’s strategic navy profit from capturing Bakhmut and Solidar can be restricted.
Taras Berezovets, a Ukrainian journalist, political commentator and officer within the Ukrainian military, mentioned that the seize of Solidar had no which means, besides that it was a private victory for Prigozhin, however that it might be simpler to seize it than Bakhmut.
“It is his private struggle,” Berezovets mentioned on YouTube.
A US official mentioned Prigozhin is eyeing salt and gypsum from the mines, which he believes prolong greater than 100 miles underground and include caverns the dimensions of a corridor.
Ukrainian forces combating in Bakhmut and Solidar say the assaults are available in waves of small teams, not more than 15, Berezovets mentioned, and the primary wave is often worn out. The professional-Russian forces are retreating, leaving white streaks for the following wave.
“The complexity of combating in cities like Bakhmut and Solidar is that it’s tough to find out who’s with you and who’s the enemy,” he mentioned.
In a middle for the displaced close to Kramatorsk, Olha, 60, mentioned she fled Solidar after shifting from house to house the place each was destroyed in tank battles.
“There was no home left intact. The flats have been burning and break up into two halves,” mentioned the primary, who gave solely her first identify.
Reporting by Reuters places of work. Written by Frank-Jacques Daniel, Doina Chiacco, and Michael Berry; Enhancing by Grant McCall, Lincoln Feist and Himani Sarkar
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