The Russian and Ukrainian militaries said there was heavy fighting Wednesday in Soledar, countering an earlier claim by Russia’s mercenary Wagner Group that it had taken control of the town in eastern Ukraine.
Hours after the Wagner Group claim, the Russian military said fighting was ongoing with Russian airborne units surrounding the town on the north and south.
A spokesman for Ukraine’s eastern military command told Ukrainian television that the situation in Soledar was “complicated.”
The area is one of the most active in the conflict, making it difficult for an independent assessment of the situation.
Britain’s defense ministry said Tuesday that Wagner and Russian forces were probably in control of most of Soledar, which is located near Bakhmut, one of Russia’s major targets at this stage of its invasion.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a news briefing Wednesday that Ukraine’s defense in the Bakhmut area “shows once again the bravery of Ukrainian forces as they fight to defend their homeland,” and how vital it is to boost military support for Ukraine.
"Our support makes a real difference on the ground and at this key juncture of the war we must do even more even faster,” Stoltenberg said.
Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, said late Tuesday a U.S. decision to train Ukrainian troops on the use of the Patriot missile defense system at Fort Sill in Oklahoma confirms “Washington’s de facto involvement in the Ukrainian conflict.”
“The real goal of the administration is to inflict on Russia as much damage on the battlefield as possible, using Ukrainians as proxies,” Antonov told reporters, according to a statement posted by the Russian embassy. (SJ/VOA)