Russian forces and the Wagner Group have made tactical advances into Soledar, Donetsk Oblast, and are likely in control of most of the settlement, the U.K. Defense Ministry reported on Jan. 10.
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 of Soledar is located just 10 kilometers northeast of Bakhmut and is a crucial stronghold for Ukraine’s efforts to defend the city, which is among Russia’s most valuable targets. By capturing Soledar and Bakhmut, Russia is trying to achieve its goal of occupying the whole of Donetsk Oblast.
According to the U.K. Defense Ministry, capturing Soledar is an attempt by Russia to take control of Bakhmut from the north and disrupt Ukrainian lines of communication.
However, the ministry noted that Russian forces are unlikely to “envelop the town imminently” due to stable Ukrainian defensive lines and supply routes.
Earlier on Jan. 10, the Institute for the Study of War suggested that Kremlin-controlled Wagner Group head Yevgeny Prigozhin is using reports of the mercenary group’s gains in and around Soledar as a way to promote the Wagner Group’s reputation as an effective fighting force.