A “fierce battle” rages in the town of Soledar near Bakhmut in Donetsk Oblast, Serhiy Cherevaty, a spokesman for Ukraine’s Eastern Group of Forces, said on Jan. 9.
Russian troops shelled Soledar 106 times over the past 24 hours, and 22 combat clashes between Russian and Ukrainian forces occurred over the same period, according to Cherevaty.
Ukraine’s military in Soledar was strengthened by additional forces and means on Jan. 8 and is “conducting measures to prevent the enemy from advancing further,” Cherevaty reported.
According to him, the frosty weather will allow both armies to use heavy equipment, such as tanks and armored fighting vehicles, to push offensive actions in Soledar.
“The side which will prepare better…develop better tactical plans will have an advantage,” the spokesman said.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address on Jan. 8 that Bakhmut and Soledar “hold on in spite of everything” and called this area “one of the bloodiest" sites along the front line.
Since the liberation of Kherson and surrounding areas in the south in November, Russia intensified its offensive on Bakhmut and nearby settlements. The salt-mining town of Soledar, only 10 kilometers northeast of Bakhmut, is a key stronghold for the Ukrainian defense of the embattled city.
On Jan. 6, multiple Russian sources claimed a significant breakthrough in Soledar, with some saying that the city had been captured entirely.
While Ukrainian officials have denied the loss of the city, some, including Donetsk Oblast Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko, acknowledged that Russian forces had had “some success.”