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Ukraine’s military denies claims that Russia has captured the whole of Soledar.
Serhiy Cherevaty, a spokesman for Ukraine's Eastern Military Command, on Jan. 11 denied Russian claims that the town of Soledar in Donetsk Oblast is “under Russian control.”
“It is not true. Wait for details in the (upcoming) General Staff report," Cherevaty told Suspilne television.
Russian dictator Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Jan. 11 neither confirmed nor denied earlier reports that Russia had captured Soledar, saying that the public should wait for official announcements. He added that Russian troops had made progress in Soledar.
Russia's Defense Ministry alleged on Jan. 11 that Russian paratroopers had blocked Soledar from the north and south.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of Kremlin-controlled mercenary group Wagner, claimed on Jan. 10 that the group had captured the whole of Soledar and encircled Ukrainian forces in the center of the town.
Wagner Group posted what it claimed was a picture of its mercenaries inside the salt mine in Soledar.
The Ukrainian military's Strategic Communications Directorate dismissed these claims, saying it was likely a picture from a salt mine in Volodymyrivka, east of Soledar.
On Jan. 10, the U.K. Defense Ministry said that Russian troops, together with Wagner Group mercenaries, had likely occupied most of Soledar over the past four days.
Soledar is located about 20 kilometers from Bakhmut. Russian troops are seeking to encircle Bakhmut by capturing Soledar.
The battle of Bakhmut has gone on for more than five months as Russian forces throw manpower and artillery at the town in an effort to capture it.
Both Ukrainian and Russian forces have sustained major losses, but Bakhmut has remained Ukraine’s main fortress in Donetsk Oblast.
Bakhmut is a major transportation hub, making it a valuable target for Russia.
Capturing the city would also be significant for Russia’s goal of occupying the entirety of Donetsk Oblast.