The battles of Solidar and Bakhmut have been called “the bloodiest of the war”. Now there are many indications that Russia has won its first major victory in a long time.
Several days ago, Russian media reported that Russia is in control of the small town of Solidar in Ukraine. However, the Ukrainian authorities said they were still resisting.
The US think tank, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), announced Thursday evening that the Russians control “most, if not all, of Solidar.”
Among other things, they refer to geolocated images showing Russian forces in the center of Solidar. They also point to the fact that the Ukrainian military did not say on Thursday that they had resisted the forces in the small town – as they usually do. The think tank also notes that Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, congratulated Russian forces on a major victory.
Therefore, the conclusion from the ISW is:
“All available evidence indicates that Ukrainian forces no longer have an organized defense in Solidar. The statement by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky Thursday night that the Ukrainians are still holding their position may indicate that Ukrainian forces are nearby, but not in Solidar.”
One of the most famous Russian military bloggers also posted a video on Telegram from the city’s sports complex. The video shows widespread destruction and two Russian soldiers. The facility is located near the town hall in Solidar. The video is geolocated.
Map of the geographical location of the Russian forces in Solidar. The article continues below the map.
Wagner’s soldiers in the north of the city
The attack on Solidar is led by the brutal Russian Wagner Group. On Thursday evening, the group posted a video on Telegram of soldiers in Solidar. CNN geolocated the video on the city’s northern border.
In the video, military blogger Aleksandr Simonov says the entire city is in Russian hands.
CNN also spoke to a Ukrainian soldier east of Solidar. He says this to the American TV channel:
“We were just abandoned. We tried to pull out, however impsimpsOrcs are the evil and monstrous fictional characters in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Ukrainians used it for Russian soldiers. He was already here.”
A video from Alexander Sladkov, one of the biggest military bloggers, was broadcast on Russian television on Thursday night. There it is shown that the Wagner Group hangs a flag in an apartment building in Solidar. the video Geolocation to the north of the city. It is already known that Wagner’s group attacked from the north.
First win in six months
The attacks on the cities of Bakhmut and Solidar have cost Russia an enormous sum, both in terms of human lives and the resources used.
Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said Monday:
– the enemy literally tramples over the corpses of their soldiers, while they attack with heavy artillery and grenade launchers.
However, the ISW think tank doubts that the victory would be a major strategic victory for the Russians.
It is used for what it’s worth in the Russian media. This is Russia’s first major victory in six months. In addition, there are four other reasons why this city is important to the Wagner Group in particular:
1. Storage space.
Solidar is a town built around salt mines. The salt mines are accompanied by 200 km of tunnels. It can be used as a storage space for Russian forces.
2. Cutting off Ukraine’s supply line.
Ukraine now uses, among other things, the road from Slovjansk to Soledar to transport supplies. It made it easier for them to defend Bakhmut and other parts of Donetsk.
If the Ukrainians lost this supply line, they could greatly weaken the region.
3. Get them a good starting point for taking Bakhmut.
Since last fall, the Wagner group has been trying to take control of the town of Bakhmut. It cost him massive losses in both lives and resources. If they now control Solidar, that gives them a strategic advantage. They could attack Bakhmut from a different angle.
4. Using it in an internal public relations war against the Russian army.
The Battle of Solidar is also significant internally in Russian politics. The Russian war machine consists of several groups that are often in conflict with each other. There was such a struggle between the Wagner Group and the Russian army. If the Wagner Group wins at Solidar, Putin’s chef gets an extra big feather in his cap.
Satellite images show that the small town is now in ruins.
Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kirilenko told Ukrainian state television on Thursday that 559 civilians were still in Solidar, including 15 children.
Before the war, the town had a population of 10,000. It is famous for its salt mines and the 200-kilometre network of tunnels that spread underground.
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