Russia's or Ukraine's or up for grabs? What is happening in this salt mine town
Russia-Ukraine War: Russian defence ministry announced on Friday that it had "completed the liberation" of Soledar.
Soledar in east Ukraine has been the centre of heavy fighting for both Moscow and Kyiv. Russia said that its forces took control of the town- a first after months of setbacks for Russian president Vladimir Putin. Meanwhile, Ukraine said that fierce fighting is still underway in the town.
Russian defence ministry announced on Friday that it had "completed the liberation" of Soledar and that the victory would pave the way for more "successful offensive operations" in Donetsk. Russia also praised the "courageous and selfless" forces of mercenary group Wagner for storming Soledar.
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What did Ukraine say?
This was followed by Ukraine's dismissal of Russia's announcement saying that "severe fighting" was ongoing in Soledar. Ukraine's deputy defence minister Ganna Malyar said that Russia had moved most of its forces around Donetsk to capture Soledar.
"This is a difficult phase of the war," she earlier said.
Why is Soledar important?
The town is important for Russia as it would improve the position of its forces. Soledar is also the pathway to Bakhmut which has been the main target of Russian forces since October. Russian defence ministry said Soledar's capture "makes it possible to cut off supply routes of Ukrainian troops" there and surround them.
Although, US-based Institute for the Study of War said Russia has "overexaggerated" the importance of Soledar.
"But this small-scale victory is unlikely to presage an imminent encirclement of Bakhmut," it cautioned.