The situation is extremely tense in the town of Soledar, near Bakhmout, where Ukrainian and Russian forces are fiercely clashing. It is in this region of eastern Ukraine that the fighting is concentrated. And Russia announced on Friday that it had taken possession of the small town of 10,000 inhabitants. But kyiv denies it and says heavy fighting is still going on. Volodymyr Zelensky promised to provide “everything necessary” for his army to resist the Russian assaults in Soledar and Bakhmout. And Ukraine will also be able to count on Western aid, particularly American aid. Washington has indeed announced the sending of Bradley tanks. Here is a point in four infographics on this new week of tensions, ending this Friday, 324th day of conflict.
Soledar, this “gift of salt”
The fighting in and around Soledar has been raging for several months, but its intensity has increased sharply in recent days. But before the conflict, Soledar was just a small town of about 10,000 people mainly known for its salt mines. Its name also means “gift of salt” in Ukrainian and Russian.
Located in the Donetsk region, which Moscow claims to have annexed, it is about 15 kilometers northeast of Bakhmout, a larger city that has been in Russian sights for several months. The Soledar salt mines are the largest in Europe. In particular, they are crossed by 200 kilometers of underground galleries, which can represent several tactical advantages in time of war.
Heavy fighting or Russian victory?
The communication war is added to the fights between kyiv and Moscow around the fierce battle of Soledar. While Russia claimed on Friday to have taken control of the city, Ukraine immediately denied and said that “heavy fighting” was still ongoing.
On Wednesday, the leader of Wagner, Evguéni Prigojine, had already claimed the capture of Soledar with his men. In its daily bulletin, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), had indicated that it believed that “Russian forces (in reality) probably captured Soledar on January 11”, or Wednesday. In support of its remarks, the ISW referred in particular to “geotagged photos published on January 11 and 12” which “indicate that Russian forces probably control most if not all of Soledar and have probably pushed Ukrainian forces out of the western outskirts of Soledar. the locality”.
American tanks sent to kyiv
To face the Russian armada, kyiv has again called on its Western allies to provide it with more weapons and high-performance military equipment. “To win this war, we need more military equipment, heavy equipment,” urged Andriï Iermak, the chief of staff of the Ukrainian presidency, on Telegram.
Last week, the United States already announced major new military aid valued at more than $3 billion, including 50 Bradley-type armored infantry and dozens of other armored vehicles. Berlin, for its part, has said it wants to send the Ukrainian army 40 “Marder” armored vehicles, light armored vehicles intended for troop transport, in the first quarter of 2023, as well as a Patriot anti-aircraft defense battery. And France said it was sending an unspecified number of AMX-10 RC light battle tanks.
The fighting is concentrated in the east
According to Mykhaïlo Podoliak, adviser to the Ukrainian presidency, the Russian military losses are “enormous” and “the Ukrainian army is also losing men” in Soledar. In the region of Lugansk, neighboring that of Donetsk, the Russians have “gathered” around 30,000 soldiers, also reported its Ukrainian governor, Serguiï Gaïdaï.
On the scale of the whole of Ukraine, “during the day [de jeudi], the enemy carried out two missile strikes and 22 air strikes,” the Ukrainian Defense Ministry summarized. In the southern city of Kherson, where bombardments caused “numerous explosions”, the state university and a perinatal center were damaged, deplored the governor of the province, Yaroslav Yanouchevich. An employee of a maternity ward also affected was also seriously injured, added the office of the Ukrainian presidency. A little further north, in Marhanets, nine apartment buildings suffered damage and one person was injured by shrapnel, according to local authorities.