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Ukraine’s military anticipates that Russian forces will attempt to capture all of Donetsk Oblast and seize the left bank of Zaporizhzhia Oblast, General Staff Deputy Chief Oleksii Hromov said on Jan. 12. Hromov said Russia will likely try to reach the “administrative borders” of Donetsk Oblast in the near future.
“The enemy’s main goal remains the seizure of our country’s entire territory and the destruction of Ukraine’s statehood,” Hromov said.
On Jan. 9, Russian forces renewed their attempt to capture the town of Soledar, which has long been a target of Russia's Bakhmut offensive in Donetsk Oblast, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar reported.
The salt-mining town is located just 10 kilometers northeast of Bakhmut and is a crucial stronghold for Ukraine's defense of the city, which is among Russia's most valuable targets.
Capturing Soledar and Bakhmut is important for Moscow to achieve its goal of occupying all of eastern Donetsk Oblast in its administrative borders.
On Jan. 11, Donetsk Oblast Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko denied Russian capturing Soledar, saying that the "fiercest battle" raged in and around the town.
Kyrylenko said that Russia's attempt to encircle and capture Soledar has "not succeeded" and that Russians are suffering from "huge losses in manpower and equipment" as a result, adding that the fight was unfolding in the western and northern parts of the town, including inside the salt mine.