Ukrainian troops are waging “fierce battles” against Russian forces for control of Soledar, Ukraine’s army said, as both sides seek to control the narrative of a bloody fight for the salt mining town in eastern Ukraine. But as of Thursday night, Russian forces likely control most of the city, according to geolocated footage cited by analysts.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky dismissed claims that Russian or Wagner Group fighters have seized the town near the embattled city of Bakhmut, where a Russian advance could give Moscow a symbolic victory.
The United States is not in a position to predict the outcome of the battle, White House spokesman John Kirby told reporters Thursday, but even if Russian forces did take the town, “it’s not going to have a strategic impact on the war itself.” And it certainly isn’t going to stop the Ukrainians or slow them down in terms of their efforts to regain their territory.”
Particularly in Donbas, “towns and villages have swapped hands quite frequently,” he said. “So … don’t count the Ukrainians out.”
Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.
1. The battle for Soledar
2. Other key developments
4. From our correspondents
Other analysts suggest Gerasimov is potentially being set up to take the fall for further Russian failures.
And still others speculate that Gerasimov, and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, are trying “to reassert control for traditional military leaders over irregular forces led by Wagner mercenary group chief Yevgeniy Prigozhin and strongman Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov,” writes Francesca Ebel.
According to additional Finance Ministry figures published By Russian business newspaper RBC, Moscow’s annual budget expenditure is also shot up by nearly 26 percent in 2022, apparently driven by military costs, she reports.
Karen DeYoung, Shane Harris, Tyler Pager, Emily Rauhala and David L. Stern contributed to this report.
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