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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 necessary salt-mining city in a single day. There have been a number of conflicting reviews over who controls the city in latest days, and the Russian declare couldn’t be independently verified.

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

“No, this isn’t true. Extreme combating remains to be happening 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 tough circumstances,” he added.

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

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

“This can be a tough stage of the conflict, however we are going to win this conflict. There is no such thing as a doubt,” she added.

The Russian Protection Ministry stated its assertion that lots of of Ukrainian troopers had 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 assets into the battle for Soledar because it launches an assault on town of Bakhmut, which is situated about 10 kilometers to the southwest. Soledar would supply 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 models 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, nevertheless, had backed away from Prigozhin’s statements, saying that whereas there had been a “optimistic dynamic in advances,” folks ought to anticipate “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 must offend the fighters by downplaying their contribution,” he stated.

“You might be demotivating them. It’s essential to combat as a substitute of evaluating every others d**ks and stealing others’ achievements.”

Whereas Soledar is seen as strategically necessary, U.S. Nationwide Safety Council spokesman John Kirby stated a Russian victory there, and even in close by Bakhmut, might not find yourself having a significant influence on the trajectory of Russia’s unprovoked conflict 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 influence on the conflict itself,” Kirby advised reporters on the White Home on January 12, “and it definitely is not going to cease the Ukrainians or sluggish them down.”

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

“From a authorized perspective, the usage of navy power by the Kyiv regime or the invasion of the territory of Belarus or Russia by the armed forces of Ukraine are adequate grounds for a collective response,” Overseas Ministry official Aleksei Polishchuk advised the official Russian state TASS information company.

He added, nevertheless, that it was as much as the leaders of the 2 international locations 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, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy stated hypothesis in regards to the potential for a renewed Russian offensive by way of neighboring Belarus confirmed that Ukrainian protection forces “should 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 however we should be prepared each on the border and within the areas,” he stated on January 11.

Belarus lies instantly north of Ukraine. The 2 international locations share a border working about 1,100 kilometers.

On the diplomatic entrance, United Nations Safety Council was as a result of talk about the state of affairs in Ukraine in a while January 13.

With reporting by AFP and Reuters

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