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US: Russia does not fully control Soledar or Bakhmut, fighting continues

by The Kyiv Independent news deskJanuary 19, 2023 2:32 am
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Russia does not fully control Bakhmut or neighboring Soledar in Donetsk Oblast, despite Russian claims, John Kirby, chief U.S. National Security Council spokesperson, said during a telephone briefing on Jan. 18, Ukrainian state news agency Ukrinform reported

"I will tell you that as of this morning, we do not estimate that (the Russians) have actually taken over both cities unilaterally," Kirby said. 

Russia claimed on Jan. 13 that it had seized control of Soledar. Kyiv denied the claim saying the fighting was ongoing. British intelligence later stated that Russian forces backed by Kremlin-controlled Wagner Group mercenaries were likely in control of Soledar as of the end of Jan. 16. 

Kirby reportedly said that "brutal fighting is taking place" in this area of Donbas, especially near Soledar, where, according to the U.S., control over the territory remains disputed.

Kirby also said that while the Russians have made gradual progress in recent days, it has cost them dearly. According to him, these efforts are mainly led by Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin and his private mercenary Wagner Group with support from the Russian army. 

The Wagner forces' advance on Soledar is believed to be a supporting operation to Russia's relentless assault on the town of Bakhmut as it tries to encircle the city. 

The Kyiv Independent news desk
The Kyiv Independent news desk

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