In his regular evening address on Jan. 13, President Volodymyr Zelensky said battles continue in Bakhmut and Soledar, the sites of the fiercest fighting in eastern Donetsk Oblast, and in Kreminna in neighboring Luhansk Oblast.
“Although the enemy has concentrated its greatest forces in this direction, our troops – the Armed Forces of Ukraine, all defense and security forces – are defending the state,” he said, thanking soldiers for their bravery and strength.
Russian militants in eastern Ukraine and Kremlin-run mercenary Wagner Group claimed to have captured Soledar on Jan. 10. Ukraine continues to deny the claims, saying the battle for the salt mining town is ongoing.
Ukrainian military spokesperson Serhii Cherevatyi reported on Jan. 13 that the Russian forces had shelled Bakhmut 212 times over the past 24 hours.
According to preliminary data, 183 Russian troops have been killed and 137 wounded in the battles for the area, Cherevatyi said.
The Kremlin hopes that capturing Soledar may allow it to encircle Bakhmut.
Control over Soledar could also fuel Russian propaganda over a victory after months of failures and setbacks. It also is needed to achieve Moscow’s goal of seizing the entire territory of Donetsk Oblast, partly occupied by Russia since 2014.