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Ukraine has rejected claims by Russia of a uncommon battleground success after months of setbacks within the japanese Ukrainian city of Soledar, saying intense combating continues for management of the city.

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Russia’s Protection Ministry stated in an announcement on January 13 that it had captured the strategically vital salt-mining city in a single day. There have been a number of conflicting experiences over who controls the city in latest days, and the Russian declare couldn’t be independently verified.

“The powerful battle for the Donetsk area continues. The battle for Bakhmut and Soledar, for Kreminna, for different cities and villages within the east of our nation continues,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy stated in his nightly video deal with on January 13.

“Though the enemy has concentrated its best forces on this route, our troopers — the Armed Forces of Ukraine, all protection and safety forces — are defending the state,” he stated.

Ukraine and Washington have tamped down discuss concerning the significance of Soledar, saying the heavy price in personnel incurred by Russia was not value an space now devastated by weeks of combating and certain not important sufficient to swing the warfare markedly in Moscow’s favor.

“No, this isn’t true. Extreme combating continues to be occurring within the city,” Serhiy Cherevatiy, a spokesman for the japanese group of the Ukrainian armed forces, stated on January 13 in feedback to the media outlet RBC-Ukraine, simply hours after the Russian ministry’s declare.

“Ukraine’s armed forces have the state of affairs beneath management in troublesome situations,” he added.

Ukraine stated earlier on January 13 that it was dealing with a “excessive depth” Russian offensive in Soledar.

“The evening in Soledar was scorching. Combating continued. The enemy relocated nearly all of its primary forces in direction of Donetsk and is sustaining a excessive depth offensive,” Ukraine’s Deputy Protection Minister Hanna Malyar stated.

“It is a troublesome stage of the warfare, however we’ll win this warfare. There isn’t any doubt,” she added.

The Russian Protection Ministry stated its assertion that a whole lot of Ukrainian troopers have been killed over the previous three days of heavy combating and bombardments. Ukrainian officers have stated greater than 500 civilians are trapped contained in the city, together with 15 youngsters. Russian didn’t speak about any doable civilian casualties.

Russia has been throwing main sources into the battle for Soledar because it launches an assault on town of Bakhmut, which is positioned about 10 kilometers to the southwest. Soledar would offer Russia with a safe and dominant artillery place inside vary of town.

Establishing full management over Soledar makes it doable to chop off the provision routes of Ukrainian troops within the southwestern metropolis of Artemovsk, after which to dam and take into the ‘cauldron’ the items of the Armed Forces of Ukraine remaining in it,” Russia’s Protection Ministry stated.

The ministry’s declare comes a number of days after the Kremlin-connected businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, who heads the ostensibly personal Russian mercenary group Vagner, stated his forces, which have been working in coordination with Russian troops, had captured town.

The Kremlin, nonetheless, had backed away from Prigozhin’s statements, saying that whereas there had been a “constructive dynamic in advances,” folks ought to await “official data” on the state of affairs.

Prigozhin, in the meantime, took exception to the ministry taking credit score for a victory he feels his troops — consisting of educated mercenaries and males recruited from prisons with a promise of pardons for his or her efforts — made doable.

“I learn with shock the assertion from the Ministry of Protection…Soledar was taken solely by the efforts of the fighters of the Wagner PMC and there’s no have to offend the fighters by downplaying their contribution,” he stated.

“You’re demotivating them. It’s essential to struggle as an alternative of evaluating every others d**ks and stealing others’ achievements.”

Zelenskiy mocked Prigozhin’s assertion, saying that Russians “are bickering amongst themselves over who ought to be credited with some tactical advance.”

He known as this an indication of failure and stated it ought to function an “incentive” to place extra strain on Russian forces and “inflict higher losses on the enemy.”

Whereas Soledar is seen as strategically vital, U.S. Nationwide Safety Council spokesman John Kirby stated a Russian victory there, and even in close by Bakhmut, could not find yourself having a significant impression on the trajectory of Russia’s unprovoked warfare on Ukraine, which is now in its eleventh month.

“Even when each Bakhmut and Soledar fall to the Russians, it is not going to have a strategic impression on the warfare itself,” Kirby advised reporters on the White Home on January 12, “and it actually is not going to cease the Ukrainians or sluggish them down.”

In the meantime, a Russian International Ministry official stated on January 13 that Belarus might enter the battle if Kyiv decides to “invade” it or Russia.

“From a authorized perspective, using army drive by the Kyiv regime or the invasion of the territory of Belarus or Russia by the armed forces of Ukraine are ample grounds for a collective response,” International Ministry official Aleksei Polishchuk advised the official Russian state TASS information company.

He added, nonetheless, that it was as much as the leaders of the 2 nations to make such a choice. Belarusian troopers haven’t participated within the invasion, however Minsk has allowed Russia to make use of its territory to stage operations within the battle with Ukraine.

Earlier this week, Zelenskiy stated hypothesis concerning the potential for a renewed Russian offensive by way of neighboring Belarus confirmed that Ukrainian protection forces “have to be prepared each on the border and within the areas.”

“We perceive that, aside from highly effective statements, we don’t see something highly effective there, however nonetheless we have to be prepared each on the border and within the areas,” he stated on January 11.

Belarus lies straight north of Ukraine. The 2 nations share a border working about 1,100 kilometers.

With reporting by AFP and Reuters

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