MNOSCOW: Russian forces have taken full control of the strategic Donbass town of Soledar, Moscow’s Defense Ministry confirmed on Friday.
The news comes after Russian private military company Wagner Group claimed this week that its fighters had already overrun the Ukrainian stronghold and were clearing its vast underground tunnel network.
The city had a pre-conflict population of around 10,500. It is part of Russia’s Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), but had been held by Ukrainian troops since 2014, when the DPR seceded from the country following a coup in Kiev. The DPR became part of Russia after holding a referendum on the matter in September.
“The liberation of Soledar was completed on the evening of January 12,” the Defense Ministry said during its daily briefing. The MOD added that the town is “important for the continuation of successful offensive actions.”
According to the Defense Ministry, airborne troops blocked off Soledar from the north and the south, while aircraft and artillery carried out “concentrated strikes” on Ukrainian troops holed up there.
The MOD said the capture of the stronghold makes possible the cutting of supply lines to Ukrainian forces holding Artyomovsk, a bastion to the southwest of Soledar, which Kiev renamed Bakhmut.
- News Agencies