Ukrainian forces' resilience during the ongoing battle for the town of Soledar in Donetsk Oblast has allowed Ukraine to win time, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his address to the nation on Jan. 9.
“Due to the resilience of our warriors there, in Soledar, we have gained additional time and strength for Ukraine,” he said. “And what did Russia want to gain there? Everything has been completely destroyed, there is almost no life left. And thousands of their people have been lost: the whole land near Soledar is covered with corpses of occupiers and scars from strikes. This is what madness looks like.”
Zelensky also thanked Ukrainian soldiers “who defend our Bakhmut and demonstrate maximum resilience… and all the warriors in Soledar who withstand new and even tougher attacks.”
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.
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 Soledar.
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.
Zelensky said on Jan. 9 that Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts remain the hottest areas on the front line.
“The battle for the Donbas continues,” he said.
And although the invaders have now concentrated their greatest efforts on Soledar, the result of this difficult and long battle will be the liberation of the entire Donbas, Zelensky said.