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Ukraine's intelligence denies Russian claims of substantial success east
Ukraine's Defense Ministry Intelligence Directorate said it doesn't confirm Russia's capture of several Ukrainian settlements, rebuffing a claim by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
On Feb. 7, Shoigu reported Russia's "complete control" over Klishchiivka, Krasnopillia, Blahodatne, Mykolaivka in Donetsk Oblast and Zaporizhzhia Oblast's Pidhirne and Lobkove.
According to the Russian state-controlled news agency TASS, Shoigu also mentioned Russia occupied Soledar, Donetsk Oblast. However, Ukraine confirmed the withdrawal of its forces from the city back on Jan. 25.
Shoigu reported "successful" battle development near Bakhmut and Vuhledar, emphasizing that Russian Armed Forces were responsible for all the "gains," the Intelligence Directorate wrote.
However, according to Ukrainian intelligence, Shoigu "deliberately" did not mention that the Kremlin-controlled mercenaries from Wagner Group were actively involved in hostilities in these areas.
"This information is silenced by Russian propaganda, which indicates the continuation of the conflict among Russia's military and political leadership," reads the report.
On Jan. 14, the Institute for the Study of War said that the Russian Defense Ministry's announcement of capturing Soledar, without acknowledging the role of the private mercenary Wagner Group, highlighted the power struggle between the two.
The Wagner Group is Russia's most high-profile mercenary group and was founded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch and Russian President Vladimir Putin's confidant. Along with the Russian military, the group has taken part in the battles for both Soledar and Bakhmut in eastern Donetsk Oblast.