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State Department: Incremental Russian gains near Soledar won’t change tide of war
Any small Russian gains in Soledar will never be able to change the tide of war, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said during a press briefing held on Jan. 12.
According to Price, no tactical advance will be able to shift the “strategic failure” that Russia’s army have encountered from the earliest days of this war, a failure made worse by successful Ukrainian counteroffensives.
Ukrainian military spokesperson Serhii Cherevatyi reported that “ongoing battles” were continuing in the salt-mining town of Soledar in the eastern Donetsk Oblast on Jan. 13, denying an earlier claim by the Russian Ministry of Defense that the city was fully under Russian control.
Ukrainian officials’ comments come amid contradicting reports about which side holds Soledar, a town with a pre-war population of 10,000 located 10 kilometers north of Bakhmut, which Russia has tried to capture for more than five months.
Russian militants in eastern Ukraine and Kremlin-run mercenary Wagner Group have made claims that Russia had captured Soledar since Jan. 10, but Ukraine continues to deny the claims.
In his first message claimining to have taken Soledar on Jan. 10, Prigozhin emphasized the point that no other forces took part in the capture of Soledar but Wagner Group soldiers.
Taking Soledar could also help Russian troops access Bakhmut, one of the bloodiest ongoing battles on the frontline. Control over the city could fuel Russia’s propaganda over a victory after months of failures and setbacks in Russia’s war.