The head of Russian military contractor company has said their forces had completely liberated the eastern Ukrainian mining town of Soledar by killing around 500 pro-Ukranian soldiers as fighting enters its 321st day.

"The whole city is littered with the corpses of Ukrainian soldiers," Yevgeny Prigozhin said in a statement. (Reuters Archive)

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Russia's Wagner Group says Soledar liberated, around 500 Ukrainians killed

The head of Russia's private military firm Wagner has said that his forces had completely liberated the eastern Ukrainian mining town of Soledar, killing around 500 pro-Ukraine troops.

"The whole city is littered with the corpses of Ukrainian soldiers," Yevgeny Prigozhin said in a statement. 

Minutes earlier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had said fighting continued.

Russia replaces military commander in Ukraine again: ministry

Russia has again replaced its top commander in Ukraine, putting army chief of staff Valery Gerasimov in charge of its forces in the conflict, the defence ministry said.

"Army General Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces, has been appointed Commander of the Joint Grouping of Troops (Forces)," the ministry said. 

Sergei Surovikin, the commander of Russia's forces in Ukraine for the past three months, will become Gerasimov's deputy.

Ukraine can win war this year with long-range missiles from West: presidency

Ukraine will be able to win the war this year if Western powers increase supplies of weapons, particularly long-range missile systems, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailov Podolyak said.

"Only missiles with a range of more than 100 kilometres will allow us to significantly accelerate the de-occupation of the territories," he told AFP in an interview, adding that this scenario would end the war by autumn at the latest.

"We will not attack Russia. We are waging an exclusively defensive war," he added.

Poland plans to give Ukraine Leopard tanks as part of coalition

Poland plans to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine as part of an international coalition, the Polish president said.

"A company of Leopard tanks will be handed over as part of coalition building," Andrzej Duda said during a visit to the western Ukrainian city of Lviv. 

"We want it to be an international coalition."

New declaration marks EU's 'complete subordination' to NATO: Russia

With their new joint declaration, the EU has ensured its “complete subordination” to NATO, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

This declaration proves that the US wants to make the EU a “vassal” to be used in its global rivalries, said ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.

NATO and the EU signed a new joint declaration aiming to further boost cooperation amid the ongoing Ukraine war, as well as new challenges posed by China.

EU set for long war in Ukraine, will work on more Russia sanctions -EU presidency

The European Union is prepared for a long war in Ukraine and will support Kiev against Russia's aggression as long as it takes, Sweden's Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom, whose country holds the EU's presidency, said.

"Despite Russia's continued attempts to divide us, unity within the EU and across the Atlantic has been strong. The EU is prepared for a long war and will continue to stand by Ukraine's side with political, economic, military and humanitarian support for as long as it takes," Billstrom told a news conference.

He said the EU would continue working on more sanctions against Moscow over the attack on Ukraine after nine packages of measures passed by the 27-nation bloc since the start of the invasion in February 2022.

Ukraine introduces emergency power cuts in east and southeast 

Ukraine introduced emergency power cuts in eastern and southeastern regions as low temperatures and difficult weather conditions stretched the country's crippled energy system, officials said.

The power cuts underscored the weakness of Ukraine's power system after three months of Russian missile and drone attacks on Ukrainian energy infrastructure. Officials have said about 40 percent of the system has been damaged. 

The national grid operator, Ukrenergo, said emergency power cuts had been introduced in the Dnipropetrovsk and Kharkiv regions, and other regions continued with scheduled electricity cuts.

Deal on safe zone for Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant getting harder - IAEA

Brokering a deal on a safe zone around Ukraine's Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is getting harder because of the involvement of the military in talks, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog said.

The Soviet-era plant, Europe's largest, was captured by Russian forces in March, soon after their attack on Ukraine. It has repeatedly come under fire in recent months, raising fears of a nuclear disaster. 

"I don't believe that (an agreement) is impossible, but it is not an easy negotiation," International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi said in an interview with Italian public television RAI.

Ukraine says fight for Soledar continues, denying Wagner claim

Ukraine’s military denied that Russian forces have taken control of Soledar, comparing the intensity of battles in the area to fighting in World War Two.

Serhiy Cherevatyi, spokesperson for the eastern military command, said Ukrainian forces repelled Russian forces to enter the front lines.

“The town is not under the control of the Russian Federation. There are fierce battles going on now”, he said.

“There is a complicated situation there”.

He added that the military command was “working now on how to stabilise the situation with the maximum impact for the enemy and minimum losses for Ukraine”.

TRT World is unable to verify on-ground fighting reports independently.

Belarus: Joint air defence units reinforced

The country's defence ministry said that joint Russian-Belarusian air defence forces had been reinforced, with new missile units moved into position.

"Anti-aircraft missile units advanced to designated areas and took up combat duty," the ministry said in a brief statement.

Belarus is a close ally of Russia and allowed President Vladimir Putin to use its territory as one of the launchpads for his February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

The two countries plan to hold joint aviation drills in the second half of January, beginning next Monday.

Ukraine has repeatedly warned that Putin may try to use Belarus to launch a new invasion of Ukraine from the north.

Kremlin calls not to rush in declaring victory

The Kremlin said it was important not to "rush" to declare victory in Soledar, hours after Russia's mercenary group Wagner claimed it had seized control of the town in eastern Ukraine.

"Let's wait for official announcements," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, adding that there was a "positive dynamic in advances" in Soledar and saluted the "heroism of our fighters".

"Tactical successes, of course, are very important," he added.

Earlier, Wagner's boss Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed his fighters controlled the salt mining city, while also saying some "urban battles" were still being fought in its centre.

Wagner claims control

Russian mercenary group Wagner is claiming control of Soledar.

Both sides have said the battle for Soledar, known for its salt mines, has been intense and bloody. 

Its fall would mark a significant victory for Moscow's forces.

Soledar, in the Donetsk region, lies 15 kilometres (nine miles) from the city of Bakhmut, which Russia has been trying to seize for months.

Russia says it is making military progress

The Kremlin said that it was making progress in military operations around Soledar and that it had "positive momentum".

Kiev said earlier its forces were holding out. The Ukrainian military's morning summary made one mention of Soledar, listing the town as one of several being shelled in Donetsk region.

Russian, Ukrainian rights officials meet in Türkiye

Russian Human Rights Commissioner Tatiana Moskalkova and her Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Lubinets met in the Turkish capital Istanbul for talks expected to focus on humanitarian assistance. 

Photos showed them sitting on opposite sides of a coffee table at an Ankara hotel on the sidelines of an international ombudsman conference. There were no immediate details on the talks which lasted for some 40 minutes. 

US Patriot training confirms participation in conflict: Russian envoy

US plans to train Ukrainian servicemen in the use of Patriot missiles provides further proof of Washington's participation in the Ukraine conflict, Russia's ambassador to the United States has said.

"The decision of the US defence department to organise a training course at Fort Sill in Oklahoma is yet another confirmation of Washington's de facto participation in theUkrainian conflict on the side of Kiev's Nazi criminals," Anatoly Antonov said in a statement posted by his embassy.

Antonov said the real aim of the US administration was to "inflict as much damage as possible on Russia on the battlefield by the hands of the Ukrainians". A US official, speaking earlier on the condition of anonymity, said the training would occur at Fort Sill in the coming weeks. 

For live updates from Tuesday (January 10), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies