Fierce fighting is going on in eastern Ukraine

Posted on Thursday, January 12, 2023 at 5:52 am

Fierce fighting is raging in eastern Ukraine’s Soledar, where Russia is trying to turn the tide of the war at any cost, while Kyiv is changing military leaders again as it looks closer to securing Western heavy weapons.

“Everything that happened today in the direction of Bakhmut or Soledar is the bloodiest scenario of this war,” Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podoliak said in an interview with AFP.

In the evening, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the fighting in Soledar “continues” and the front “continues”. “We are doing everything to strengthen the defense of Ukraine in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine without any pause, even for a day,” he said.

According to Ukraine’s deputy defense minister, Ganna Maliar, the Russians have tried “unsuccessfully” to capture the mining town of 10,000 residents, which the Ukrainians have been fiercely defending for months, near the more important city of Bakhmut.

After several humiliating setbacks since September, the Russian mercenary group Wagner, which claimed responsibility for the seizure of what would be a military victory for Moscow, was rebuffed not only by the Ukrainian military but also by the Russian army.

“The offensive forces are fighting in the city,” the Russian Ministry of Defense assured in turn, adding that “airborne forces have blocked the northern and southern parts of Soledar.”

Zaporozhye (south) has also been the target of new Russian strikes, damaging infrastructure and causing fires.

“In addition, as a result of the fire, the houses of civilians were again damaged. According to preliminary information, there were no injuries.”

For his part, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters on Wednesday that the United States could not confirm reports that Soledar had fallen and that the city had been “cycling back and forth many times and these were really pretty brutal battles.”

– “Big” Russian losses –

The Kremlin was cautious about the situation on the ground.

“Nobody planned to hand over the city,” said wounded Ukrainian soldier Bober, who was met by AFP on Wednesday as he awaited evacuation on the road connecting Bakhmout with Sloviansk. He claimed that Soledar was “not completely taken” by the Russians.

According to Mykhailo Podoliak, Russian military losses there are “huge” and “the Ukrainian army is also losing people.” “It’s definitely more than what happened before,” he told AFP.

The Russians have “gathered” about 30,000 soldiers in the Luhansk region, which is a neighbor of Donetsk.

Across Ukraine, “the enemy carried out two missile strikes and 22 airstrikes during the day,” the Ukrainian Defense Ministry concluded.

In the southern city of Kherson, where the bombings caused “numerous explosions”, the state university and the perinatal center were damaged, the governor of the province, Yaroslav Yanouchevic, expressed regret. The office of the President of Ukraine added that an employee of the maternity hospital was also seriously injured.

A little further north, in Marhanets, nine residential buildings were damaged and one person was injured by shrapnel, according to local authorities.

– New military leader –

At the same time, in a new change at the top of the military hierarchy in Moscow, General Valery Guerassimov became the chief of the Defense Staff, whose recent episodes are believed to have been dictated by great frustrations on the ground. – Vladimir Putin’s direct interlocutor, who was appointed “commander of the joint forces group” stationed in Ukraine.

“Increasing the command level of the special operation (in Ukraine) is related to the expansion of the scope of the missions to be performed, and the need for closer interaction between the components of the armed forces,” said the General Administration. Defense.

In a publication published on Tuesday, the US-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) believes that “Gerasimov’s appointment is likely to support decisive Russian military efforts in 2023 in the form of a resumption of Russian offensive operations”.

The institute adds that “the inability of the Russian defense base to cope with ammunition shortages will likely hamper the ability of Russian forces to continue offensive operations in eastern Ukraine in 2023.”

Valery Guerassimov’s predecessor, General Sergei Surovikin – demoted to the rank of deputy – headed the operations for just three months.

He was appointed in October to correct the situation of the Russian army, which had failed in the face of Ukrainian attacks in the Kharkov (north-east) and Kherson regions.

He was linked to a tactic of massive strikes on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, which did not sway Kiev.

– Heavy tanks? –

Ahead of a new meeting to be held at the American base in Ramstein, Ukraine on January 20, Ukraine repeated its appeals to its Western partners to provide it with heavy and long-range weapons.

“Only missiles with a range of more than 100 kilometers will allow us to significantly accelerate the liberation of the territories,” Mykhailo Podoliak said in his statements to AFP, promising that they will not be used against the territory.

Western chancellors have been slow to respond favorably to Kiev’s requests on this issue, and Paris, London, Berlin and Washington have only promised tanks and other light armored vehicles at this stage.

But Poland took the first step on Wednesday, saying it was ready to bring a German Leopard 2 heavy tank or a company of 14.

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