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Zelensky says Ukraine resisting ‘tougher assaults’ in Soledar


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday his troops were withstanding “new and even tougher assaults” on Soledar, near the eastern city of Bakhmut that Moscow has been trying to capture for months.

“I thank all our soldiers who protect our Bakhmut… (and) all the fighters in Soledar, who are withstanding the new and even tougher assaults from the invaders!” Zelensky said in his daily address.

Soledar is located in the Donetsk region, around 15 kilometres (nine miles) from Bakhmut, a city with a pre-war population of 70,000 that is now an epicentre of fighting.

“Thanks to the resilience of our soldiers there, in Soledar, we won additional time and (preserved) forces for Ukraine,” Zelensky added.

“Everything is completely destroyed… the whole land in Soledar is covered with corpses of the invaders and is scarred from the explosions,” the Ukrainian leader said.

Earlier Monday, the Ukrainian armed forces said they repelled an attempt to seize Soledar, but that fighting resumed.

“After an unsuccessful attempt of the enemy to capture Soledar and retreat, (Russians) regrouped, recovered the manpower, transferred additional assault units, changed tactics and started assault actions,” Deputy Defence Minister Ganna Malyar said on Telegram.

“Currently, the enemy has deployed a large number of assault units formed from the best reserves of the Wagner Group. They literally step on the corpses of their own soldiers,” Malyar added. 

Earlier on Monday Russian-backed separatist forces in the Donetsk region said they captured the village of Bakhmutske, just a few kilometres away from Soledar. 

Separately, Wagner’s founder Yevgeny Prigozhin said on social media that Soledar was being stormed “exclusively” by the group’s units.

In September, Moscow claimed to have annexed Donetsk and three other Ukrainian regions following referendums not recognised by Kyiv and the West. 

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