Europe 1 with AFP 3:41 p.m., January 10, 2023

On the 321st day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainian forces are still resisting "violent" assaults in Soledar in the east of the country, near Bakhmout.

"Very tough and bloody fighting is underway in the western suburbs of Soledar," said Yevgeny Prigojine.


Fierce fighting is underway in the suburbs of Soledar, a town in eastern Ukraine close to that of Bakhmout, the hottest point on the front, said Tuesday the leader of the Russian paramilitary group Wagner.

"Let's be honest (…) The Ukrainian army is fighting bravely for Bakhmout and Soledar. Very hard and bloody fighting is underway in the western suburbs of Soledar," said Yevgeny Prigojine, quoted on Telegram by his press service.

The main information:

  • 'Bitter and bloody' fighting is ongoing in Soledar, a town in eastern Ukraine near Bakhmout

  • The EU and NATO have pledged to provide Ukraine with all the military means necessary to "defend" their homeland

Soledar, a "bloody" battleground

"The Ukrainian Armed Forces honorably defend the territory of Soledar. Claims of mass desertions from its ranks do not correspond to reality," added Yevgeny Prigozhin.

The town of Soledar, located about ten kilometers northeast of Bakhmout, is close to Bakhmoutské, a village which the pro-Russian separatists claimed to have conquered.

Denis Pushilin, the leader of the separatists in the Donetsk region, whose annexation Moscow claims, also said on Russian television on Tuesday that Soledar was "very close to liberation".

Wagner's troops play a leading role in the battle for Bakhmout, a city of questionable strategic importance but which has taken on strong symbolic value, as both sides have fought for its control for months.

On Monday, Yevgeni Prigojine said the assault on Soledar was "exclusively" led by members of his organization.


War in Ukraine: what to remember from the 320th day of the Russian invasion

The British Ministry of Defense confirmed on Tuesday that the Russian army and Wagner's units had made "tactical advances" in Soledar over the past four days and were "most likely seeking to encircle Bakhmout from the north" and "disrupt the Ukrainian lines of communication".

According to this source, part of the fighting is to control the entrance to an old salt mine in Soledar, as its tunnels pass under the front line and could be used to "infiltrate behind enemy lines".

However, Russia is not in danger of encircling Bakhmout "immediately", according to the British ministry, because the Ukrainian army has "stable defenses in depth" and controls several supply routes for the time being.

EU and NATO step up support for Ukraine

The European Union and NATO pledged on Tuesday to provide the Ukrainians with all the military means necessary to defend their homeland and discussions are scheduled "next week" on the types of weapons that can be provided, the leaders announced. of both organizations.

"Discussions are planned next week with the Ukrainians to see what kind of weapons are needed and who among the allies is able to provide them," Alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said after signing the agreement. a joint declaration with the presidents of the institutions of the European Union.

These discussions will take place within the framework of the Ramstein group (the contact group on the defense of Ukraine) created by the United States, he specified.

"Russia has suffered heavy losses, but it should not be underestimated. It is mobilizing more troops and equipment. It is ready to suffer to continue the war. Vladimir Putin has not changed his objective and he we must prepare to support Ukraine in the long term," insisted Jens Stoltenberg.


 Delivery of AMX-10 RC tanks: their number soon to be fixed by Sébastien Lecornu and his Ukrainian counterpart

"Ukraine must receive all the military equipment it needs to defend its territory," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

The Europeans were the first to supply military equipment to Ukraine shortly after the start of the conflict, recalled the President of the European Council Charles Michel.

"Military support must continue to ensure that Ukraine can defend itself," said the member states' representative.

Of the 27 member countries of the EU, 21 are also members of NATO.

Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Finland and Sweden submitted a joint application to join the Alliance in May, abandoning decades of military non-alignment.