The town of Soledar, near Bakhmut in Donetsk Oblast, is still under Ukrainian control despite violent Russian assaults, Serhiy Cherevaty, a spokesman for Ukraine’s Eastern Group of Forces, said on Jan. 7.
Russian propagandists have reported recently that Wagner, a Kremlin-controlled mercenary group, had allegedly broken the front in Soledar and was fighting Ukrainian forces in the town. Wagner's founder Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed that the group was about to capture the town.
Russian forces have shelled Soledar 76 times since midnight on Jan. 7 and Ukraine’s Armed Forces have engaged in ten clashes with Russian troops in the town since then, according to Cherevaty.
“Our Armed Forces and command are doing everything to inflict maximum damage on the enemy in terms of personnel and equipment,” Cherevaty said.
Ukrainian commanders said Russia had recently repositioned armored vehicles and artillery fire toward Soledar, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Soledar is located about 20 kilometers from Bakhmut.
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.