Ukraine forces pull back from Soledar after fierce battles, exposing supply lines to possible Russian attacks

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Ukraine has conceded its forces have pulled back from Soledar, a town in the eastern Donetsk region where some of the fiercest battles of Russia’s nearly year-long invasion have been fought.

“For two or three days we lost positions but now we are working to push back to what we had before,” said Igor, part of the aerial reconnaissance unit involved in the attack.

Compared to the rest of the industrial Donetsk region — whose capture Russia has made its military priority — Soledar has seen some of “the worst fighting” over recent days, he said.

The fighting in eastern Ukraine has stood mostly at a stalemate for months.

Since its invasion of Ukraine, Moscow has prioritised taking full control of the Donbas, where it has backed a separatist insurgency since 2014.

Russia has seized most of Luhansk, but about half of Donetsk remains under Ukraine’s control.

Smoke raises after shelling in Soledar.
Russian and Ukrainian forces fought bitterly over the industrial town of Soledar.(AP: Libkos)

“Russia is not reducing combat activity in Donbas, leaving a scorched desert where the Russian military manages to advance,” Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on state television.

Taking control of Soledar potentially allows Russian forces to cut supply lines to Ukrainian forces in the key town of Bakhmut, though the strength of Ukraine’s new defensive positions is not known.



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