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The war in Ukraine – the fight for Soledar. Experts about the importance of the city

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Fighting continues for the city of Soledar in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine. Mariusz Cielma, a military analyst, estimated that the capture of the city by the Russians would be a tactical success, at the cost of huge losses. Ukrainian expert Oleh Zhdanov said that “this is about politics and Putin will use it for propaganda purposes.”

– It seems that the Russians, mainly the forces of the so-called Wagner Group, i.e. Yevgeny Prigozhin’s private army at the Kremlin’s service, already occupy about two-thirds of the city. Very bloody fights are taking place there and there are many indications that Sołedar, located north of Bachmut, will be occupied by the enemy, Mariusz Cielma, editor-in-chief of “Nowa Techniki Wojskowa”, told PAP.

But it’s important not to lose perspective. It is a small town with 10,000 inhabitants before the war, for which the Russians have been desperately fighting for many weeks, not counting the losses. It seems that after failing for many months to capture the much larger Bakhmut (pre-war with about 70,000 inhabitants), the Russian forces decided to focus on Soledar. The main goal of these activities is to record any success – added Cielma.

SołedarReuters/Ukrainian Land Forces

On Tuesday, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malar reported that heavy fighting was taking place in Soledar, the Russians “attacked the city despite huge losses, approaches to Ukrainian positions are strewn with the bodies of their soldiers.” On Monday, Malar reported that after a failed attempt to seize Sołedar, the Russian army regrouped its forces and launched a powerful assault on the positions of the Ukrainian army defending the city.

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“If one of these cities falls, the other will be half surrounded”

According to the PAP interlocutors, the attack on Sołedar is part of the effort to capture Bakhmut. Ukrainian expert Oleh Zhdanov noted that this is why “the Russians are now attacking between Bakhmut and Soledar.”

– Bakhmut and Soledar are related. If one of these cities falls, the other will be half surrounded, Zhdanov explained. He added that the enemy forces are trying to gain fire control over the Bachmut-Siewiersk and Bakhmut-Sloviansk routes that run near the city.

– Sołedar is located in a depression. After capturing it, the Russians themselves will find themselves in a more difficult position, because the Ukrainians will retreat to higher positions, assessed Cielma. In his opinion, the capture of Sołedar does not necessarily mean that Bakhmut will also fall.

Fighting for SołedarReuters/Ukrainian Land Forces

– Sam Sołedar is a tactical victory, which will of course be used by Russia propaganda. The key question, however, is what will happen next. Will the Russians have the potential, and it seems less likely to go further north or north-west, Cielma said.

– The occupation of Sołedar has no significance for the front, for the war, but for politics. Putin will finally get something to go out to the Russians with. Propaganda will make a ‘success’ out of it, almost like ‘capturing Berlin encore’,” added Zhdanov.

Wagner’s group attacks Bachmut and Sołedar

In the area of ​​Bakhmut and Soledar, for months, the Russian side has been attacking mainly with the forces of the Wagner Group mercenaries, using the method, as Ukrainian soldiers say, of “body throwing” and massive artillery attacks.

According to the Russian media, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner Group, who became one of the key players in the Russian aggression on Ukraine, treats the Battle of Bakhmut as an important element of the competition for influence in Russia. Success – the first for Russia in many months – would give him an important advantage in his rivalry with the Ministry of Defense and the general staff.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, archival photoMikhail Metzel / TASS / Forum

There have been speculations in the media that Prigozhin is driven not only by political ambitions, but also by mercantile motives. Namely, he is tempted by the gypsum and salt mines located in the Bakhmut area. He himself explained that the mines have an extensive network of underground corridors through which the army and even military equipment can move, and that “weapons have been stored there since the First World War.”

According to Oleh Zhdanov, these are “fantasies” and the mines have no military significance.

Main photo source: Reuters/Ukrainian Land Forces

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