By 10th January 2023 the Ukrainian Army had lost control of Soledar, one of its main strongholds in the Donbass.
In the morning report of the Ukrainian General Staff on January 10, Soledar was not even mentioned.
The western media on Jan 11th still refused to believe official Russian claims and videos and interviews on Telegram channels showing that the key town and salt mines had finally fallen.
Soledar and surroundings are important to Russia because they are situated in the area of Donbass seized back by Ukraine from the ethnic Russian 2014 uprising after the Maidan Coup. The heavily fortified area was used by the Ukrainian ultra right to shell and bomb nearby rebel civilian areas for 8 years and until the present day, killing and maiming thousands.
On 9th January, everyone still alive was waiting for the decision of the Ukrainian military to withdraw troops and save lives of hundreds of servicemen.
CNN published an interview with one of Ukrainian servicemen then fighting in Soledar. He confirmed that the situation was critical and the number of Ukrainian losses was so high that no one counted the dead.
The anonymous soldier claimed that he was sure that Ukrainian authorities would give up the fight for Soledar. ‘Why die if we leave it today or tomorrow anyway?’ he said.
However, the Ukrainian military command decided to follow its traditional tactics and use servicemen as cannon fodder. On January 9, the official representative of the Eastern Grouping of the Armed Forces of Ukraine claimed that Ukrainian units would not retreat
As a result, there was no organized withdrawal. Some Ukrainian units did manage to escape and fled from the city. Others were left in the cauldron. Hundreds of Ukrainian servicemen who had been forceably drafted lost their lives.
The Wagner units reached the western outskirts of the city from the northern and southern directions. The Ukrainian garrison found itself in a cauldron in the center. Wagner fighters launched the mop up operation to destroy the remnants of enemy troops on the streets.
This was officially confirmed by the head of Wagner PMC on the evening of January 10. He stressed that only Wagner fighters took part in the offensive.
Ukrainian soldiers surrounded in Soledar have either surrendered or been killed, Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin said on Wednesday.“The entire town is littered with the bodies of Ukrainian servicemen,” he said.“There can be no word of any humanitarian corridor,” he said, noting that all civilians have already been evacuated from the town
Russian forces took control of the central quarters of the city, including the buildings of the local administration and the city council. Footage also confirmed that the salt mines used as hideouts by Ukrainian servicemen came under Russian control.
On the outskirts, Russian forces continued to develop their offensive westwards towards the Sol railway station. The loss of Blagodatny will be the final point of defeat of the Ukrainian grouping in the Soledar area.
The capture by Russian troops of one of the most important defense nodes of the Ukrainian grouping in the Donbas was completely ignored by Kiev officials. In the morning report of the Ukrainian General Staff on January 10, Soledar was not even mentioned.
Ukrainian propagandists are already preparing the public, declaring that military positions in Soledar are ‘not strategically important’, and loss of the city would change nothing.
After Russian victory in Soledar, Ukrainian defense in Bakhmut is doomed. But more serious is the shocking death toll of reinforcements funneled for weeks into an area being blitzed constantly by Russian artillery.
The US and allies are desperately providing ever more powerful and sophisticated war weapons to the Ukrainian army which is being slowly reduced to demoralised and ill treated ‘cannon fodder’.