Russia admits huge damage in Soledar, 500 Ukrainian soldiers may be trapped

An official in the breakaway Lugansk region says about 500 Ukrainian servicemen may be stranded in Soledar, while Russia admits to having suffered damage in its efforts to control the pan.

Tass reported that Yan Gagin, an adviser to the leader of the separatist Donetsk region, said on January 11 that about 500 Ukrainian soldiers may be trapped in Soledar – an area that the Russian private military force Wagner said had “controlled the entire territory”.

Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin said a few hours earlier that they had won Soledar and there was an area in the city center where Ukraine was resisting. Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said that Russian forces had blocked Soledar from the north and south and that fighting was taking place in the city center.

Earlier, some local news sites said that 500 Ukrainian soldiers might be stuck in Soledar.

“That could be the number of Ukrainian troops left. Some were left behind, some might not know about Ukraine’s withdrawal. That’s the number our field commanders estimate.” he said.

He said that the servicemen trapped in Soledar were most likely injured or demoralized, and “they will hardly be able to put up a strong resistance to the Russian forces”.

“The situation right now is like Azvostal,” he said, recalling the smelter in Mariupol, Donbass. Azovstal was besieged by Russia in the middle of last year for several weeks, before thousands of Ukrainian soldiers surrendered.

Mr. Gagin predicted that Ukrainian soldiers in Soledar would probably surrender to preserve their lives because Russia had won this pan of fire.

Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on November 11 that Russia had made progress in Soledar, but admitted to suffering heavy losses in manpower on this front.

Asked about the situation on the ground, Peskov said: “Don’t rush, wait for official announcements.”

Ukraine claims to be still entrenched in Soledar as towns in the east come under shelling.

Soledar is located about 7km northeast of Bakhmut, which Russia has been trying to gain control of for months. Taking control of Soledar would be the most significant achievement for the Russian military since last August, following a series of retreats throughout much of the second half of 2022. 

“Although important tactical successes have been achieved (in Soledar), this success has come at a heavy price. This is a reason for us to be proud of our servicemen,” Peskov said. speak.

The Russian official reiterated previous statements by the Kremlin that Russian President Vladimir Putin is still open to negotiations over the war in Ukraine, and that Russia wants to achieve its goals by political and diplomatic means.

However, he said that the two sides currently have no prospect of negotiations, considering the positions of Ukraine and the West.

Meanwhile, Ukraine and the US accuse Russia of not being serious about negotiations, suspecting that Russia wants time to gather forces after they have faced setbacks on the battlefield in recent times.

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