Poland announces it will send Leopard tanks to Ukraine

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Smoke billows during fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces in Soledar, Donetsk region, Ukraine, on January 11.
Smoke billows during fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces in Soledar, Donetsk region, Ukraine, on January 11. (Libkos/AP)

The small mining town of Soledar has seen some of the most recent intense fighting along the frontline in Ukraine.

The town is located 15 kilometers (or about 9 miles) north of Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsk region.

The head of Wagner, the Russian private military company, claimed Tuesday that his forces had taken control of the “entire territory of Soledar.” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov tempered that sentiment on Wednesday, saying only that there was a “positive trend.”

The Russian Defense Ministry said Wednesday that its forces had “blocked Soledar from the northern and southern parts” of the settlement.

The move for Soledar by Wagner would be strategically important to the ultimate capture of Bakhmut as a way of enveloping the city from the north and disrupting Ukrainian communication lines.

Bakhmut has risen to infamy for being regularly referred to as the most contested and kinetic part of the 1,300 kilometers (800 mile) frontline in Ukraine. Bakhmut lies on the road towards even bigger and more strategically important cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk.

Ukrainian armed forces told CNN Wednesday that “Russian troops do not control Soledar.” Serhii Cherevatyi, spokesperson for Eastern Group of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, said that “battles are ongoing there. The Armed Forces of Ukraine and other defense forces are regrouping.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address Tuesday that Russian troops are focused on seizing Soledar, and he thanked Ukraine’s troops for their “bravery and steadfastness in defending” the town.



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