Russia claimed Friday to have seized control of Soledar, a heavily contested salt-mining town in eastern Ukraine where fighting has raged in recent days, but in his nightly address on Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky maintained that the battle was not yet over.
Taking Soledar — a gateway to the embattled city of Bakhmut — would give Moscow its first significant gain after months of military setbacks. Ukrainian officials also disputed earlier assertions this week that Russian troops or the Wagner Group’s private military forces had captured the town.
Competing claims by the combatants have been a feature of the bloody, months-long fight in the eastern Donetsk region, a struggle that has intensified in recent days in Soledar. Nearly 600 residents — out of a prewar population of more than 10,000 — remained in the town trying to survive a “bloodbath,” according to one Ukrainian official. On Friday, the Russian state-owned news agency Tass reported that 170 of those residents had been evacuated, with another 108 expected to follow.
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4. From our correspondents
“Gerasimov, 67, an army general and deputy defense minister, has been chief of the General Staff for more than a decade and is a Kremlin insider who had a key role in planning the war,” she writes.
David L. Stern contributed to this report.
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