The Battle for Soledar

The Battle for Soledar

Krzysztof P., Staff Writer

On January 12, 2023, the Russian Defense Ministry claimed Russian forces successfully captured the salt mining town of Soledar, which for the past few months, has been the focus of brutal fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces. Shortly after that claim by the Ministry of Defense, a Ukrainian commander reported the bloody and brutal battle is still raging on in Soledar. The town of Soledar is located in eastern Ukraine’s province of  Donetsk. Donetsk is one of the main four Ukrainian regions that Putin illegally annexed in September of 2022 and he with his military have been trying to get full control over the area ever since. Ukraine and its military still seem to control the road past the town, which connects Soledar to the nearby areas of Bakhmut, Sloviansk and Kostyantynivka. If the road as well as Sloviansk and Kostyantynivka were to be captured, it would pose a threat to Ukrainian defenders in Bakhmut. What is rather visible is that the battles for Soledar, as well as Bakhmut, have shown the weak and brutal current state of the war on Ukraine’s eastern front and the rather low quality of the Russian forces, and symbolic of the state of Russia’s offensive into Ukraine.

Even if the Russian forces did indeed capture it, they will now need to defend it well.  

While fighting has been going on in Soledar, it has been also reported that more and more Russian criminals are being recruited into the military and into the terrorist Wagner group in order to supply the Russian army with more easy to expend, untrained soldiers. It has also been noticed that Russian commanders and officers have started using more brutal tactics on their own men, like threatening to shoot any that decide to retreat. Oleksandr Pohrebyskyy, a Ukrainian soldier from the 46th airmobile brigade who has been evacuated from Soledar, has recently described that he often found poorly equipped dead Russian soldiers and specifically recalls how once he found Russian soldiers killed in their vehicle that was on an ammunition run. He described that they were not wearing any body armor, no helmet, and their machine guns only had one magazine. Ukrainian soldiers have also reported that during close distance infantry battles, they heard Russian commanders tell their troops “Not a step back. We will shoot,” while addressing their own troops, implying that if any of the Russian troops were to retreat or try to not participate in the fight, they would be shot.

In conclusion, while Russian forces perhaps did capture Soledar, they did so with extremely high casualties. These series of battles show how poorly equipped and demoralized the Russian military is despite what the Russian Ministry of Defense might say, and that Russia is so desperate that they have decided to recruit prisoners, no matter their crimes, into their military to fight in Ukraine. Lastly, all this also shows is that Russia will try to paint their military as powerful, when in reality it is an army of untrained, poorly equipped and for the commanders, expendable men that they do not care if they die or not, as long as they advance.