Kyiv, UKRAINE (AP) — Ukrainian forces have carried out a systematic withdrawal from towns in the eastern region of Donbass, officials said Wednesday. intrusion It started almost 11 months ago.
Ukrainian forces have withdrawn from the salt-mining town of Soledar to “protect the lives of personnel,” Eastern Ukraine spokesman Serhiy Cherevaty told The Associated Press.
The soldiers returned to their previously prepared defensive positions, he said.
Moscow describes the Battle of Soledar, near the city of Bakhmut, as the key to capturing the entire Donbass.
The achievement brought Russian forces one step closer to Bakhmut, but military analysts say the capture of Soledar was more symbolic than strategic.
Ukrainian forces have held out against months of onslaught by superior Russian forces in Soledar, but say the heavy defense of the eastern fortifications helped hold them back.
Russia claimed to have taken Soledar almost two weeks ago, which Ukraine has denied.
Many of the Russian forces around Soledar belonged to the Wagner Group, a Russian private military contractor, and the fighting was reportedly bloody.
Since its invasion of Ukraine, Russia has prioritized full control of Donbass, which comprises the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and has supported a separatist uprising since 2014. under Ukrainian control.
The strength of the new Ukrainian defenses is unknown, but taking control of the town could allow Russian forces to cut off supply lines to Ukrainian forces at Bakhmut.
The War Institute, a Washington think tank, said earlier this month that the fall of Soledar “does not represent a significant operational development and is unlikely to portend an imminent Russian siege of Bahmut.”
The institute said that Russian intelligence operations “overexaggerated the importance of Soledar.” He also claimed that the long and difficult battle had contributed to the exhaustion of the Russian army.
Perhaps more worrying to Moscow, Western military support for Ukraine is now tank delivery.
Elsewhere, Russian forces continue to attack regions of Ukraine, particularly in the south and east.
A Russian strike wounded 10 civilians in eastern Donetsk province on Tuesday, said provincial governor Pablo Kirilenko.
He said five people were injured when Russian artillery shells slammed into an apartment block.
The Ukrainian Army General Staff said on Wednesday that the Russian military launched four missile attacks, 26 airstrikes and more than 100 rocket artillery system attacks in the past 24 hours.
According to spokesman Oleksandr Stupn, the Russian army is focused on consolidating control of the Donetsk region, conducting offensive operations around the besieged cities of Bakhmut, Raiman and Avdiuka, as well as the village of Novopavlivka. ing.
In addition to Donetsk, Russian attacks hit the settlements of Kharkov and Sumy in the northeast of the country, Chernihiv in the north, the easternmost part of Luhansk, the southeast of Zaporizhia, and the Kherson province in the south.
On the other hand, Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, turned professional comedian. Internationally Recognized Wartime Leaderturned 45 on Wednesday.
His wife and first lady Olena Zelenska said he’s the same person he was when we met at 17, but “something has changed. Now he smiles less.”
“I wish I had more reasons to smile. And you know you need it. We all do,” she wrote in a tweet.
Follow AP’s war coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine