After a months-long bloody battle, Ukraine's army admits losing Soledar to Russian forces

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By Euronews
Ukrainian soldiers on their positions in the frontline near Soledar, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023.
Ukrainian soldiers on their positions in the frontline near Soledar, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023.   -   Copyright  LIBKOS/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.

Ukraine has officially admitted to withdrawing troops from the eastern town of Soledar on Wednesday, after a months-long bloody battle. But Ukrainian army spokesman Sergui Tcherevaty did not specify when it took place.  

"After months of difficult fighting... the Ukrainian armed forces left [Soledar]," he said.

"[To] retreat to prepared positions."

Recent weeks have seen vicious fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces in the salt mining town, which sits in the hotly-contested Donbas region. 

Moscow has portrayed the fight as key to seizing the strategic town of Bakhmut and the prized Donbas region. But the importance of the town is debated. 

The US think tank, Institute for the Study of War, said it was "not an operationally significant development".

A war of words has accompanied fighting on the ground. On 13 January, Moscow claimed its forces had seized the besieged salt mining town, but Kyiv immediately rejected that. 

Days earlier, the Russian private military group Wagner said it had taken Soledar. 

This is the first time Ukraine has officially recognised the loss of the town, which was once home to 11,000 people before the Russian invasion. 

Tcherevaty said the retreat was "controlled" with "no encirclement or massive capture of our soldiers", and denied that soldiers had leaked information about its fate. 

He claimed Ukrainian troops "inflicted incredible losses" on the Russians, and emphasised that Kyiv's strategy was to "wear out the enemy".

Casualty figures are highly-contested on both sides, and Euronews cannot verify this claim. 

Russian officials said their soldiers had made advances towards Bakhmut on Wednesday, citing the capture of Soledar as the reason why. 

For more watch Euronews' report in the video above.