For the month of January, the Donbas town of Soledar held the attention of anyone watching the war in Ukraine as Russian forces began successfully advancing.
As the fighting intensified and deaths increased, Soledar and its southern neighbor Bakhmut became infamous.
On January 11, Wagner PMC claimed to have taken Soledar. Photos of the mercenaries in mines beneath Soledar were shared as proof of victory.
Until now, official Ukrainian sources recognized the Russian upper hand in Soledar but disputed the claim of Russia’s capture and maintained that UA forces were still defending their positions.
Today the AFP was told by Ukrainian military spokesman Sergiy Cherevaty that Ukrainian forces had withdrawn from Soledar.
“After months of heavy fighting, including over the past weeks, the Armed Forces of Ukraine left (Soledar) and retreated along the outskirts to pre-prepared positions,” said Sergiy Cherevaty.
Cherevaty did not disclose when the retreat occurred which is noteworthy.
After approximately the first week of January, it was clear that Soledar would soon be in Russian control.
Ukrainian officials addressing the battle for Soledar seemed to be preparing to announce the inevitable loss of the town as they focused on praising the soldiers bravely fighting. Information on the battle was not detailed and mostly emphasized how difficult the situation was for Ukrainian forces.
Sergiy Cherevaty also stated that there was no “encirclement” or “mass capture” of the final Ukrainian defenders of Soledar.
With the fall of Soledar, it is probable that Russian forces will now use their newly captured town to aid their offensive on Bakhmut by attacking from the north.