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Monday, February 26, 2024

Russia Switches Commanders Again in Ukraine as Fight for Soledar Rages

Claims that Soledar was in the hands of the Russians could not be corroborated

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Sadaf Hasan
Sadaf Hasan
Aspiring reporter covering trending topics

UKRAINE: Moscow appointed a new commander for its invasion of Ukraine, and the Russian private military company Wagner Group declared that its takeover of the salt mining town of Soledar in eastern Ukraine was finished, despite Ukrainian military claims that the conflict was still ongoing.

On Wednesday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu named General Staff Chief Valery Gerasimov as the overall commander of what Moscow refers to as its “special military operation” in Ukraine, which is currently in its eleventh month.

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The switch effectively downgraded General Sergei Surovikin, who had been chosen in October to lead the invasion and oversee heavy attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.

Surovikin was given the order to oversee the operation after Ukrainian offensives turned the tide of the fight and brought attention to subpar Russian army morale, equipment, and training.

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The most recent command reshuffle, according to a statement from the Russian Defense Ministry, aimed to enhance coordination between the military branches and the efficacy of the command structure.

In the meantime, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Wagner and a close ally of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, declared that his forces had entirely captured Soledar following tense combat and claimed to have killed over 500 Ukrainian soldiers.

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In a statement, Prigozhin stated, “I want to confirm the complete liberation and cleansing of the territory of Soledar,” adding that “the whole city is littered with the corpses of Ukrainian soldiers.”

The claims that Soledar was in the hands of the Russians could not be corroborated, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told journalists on Wednesday.

559 residents, including 15 children, are still in Soledar, according to Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko, who told Ukrainian state television that it was impossible to evacuate them because of the ongoing fighting. The community had about 10,500 residents before the conflict.

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy poked fun at earlier Wagner claims that he had seized control of a piece of Soledar, but he did not immediately reply to the most recent charges.

In a video message, Zelenskiy stated: “The terrorist state and its propagandists are trying to pretend that part of our town of Soledar… is some sort of Russian possession.” But the fighting continues.

Prior to Wagner’s most recent remarks, the Kremlin refrained from declaring victory but admitted significant deaths.

“Let’s not rush; let’s wait for official statements.” “There is a positive dynamic in progress,” said Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin.

After a string of withdrawals before Ukrainian counteroffensives in the east and south, Russia has struggled to firmly establish control over the town, which would be the country’s biggest victory since August.

Oleh Zhdanov, a military analyst from Ukraine, stated that the Soledar situation was “approaching critical.”

However, Zhdanov claimed in Ukrainian media that Soledar or the neighbouring city of Bakhmut would be taken by Russian forces more as a political victory than a military one. “There is more politics than war here,” stated Zhdanov.

On February 24, Russia sent tens of thousands of battalions into Ukraine, saying that Kyiv’s close ties to the West and aspirations to join NATO posed a threat to the country’s security. 

Kiev and its supporters accuse Moscow of launching an unprovoked battle to annex land in a neighbouring country that it once controlled under the former Soviet Union.

Also Read: Ukraine Asks Allies to Provide Armoured Combat Vehicles as Battle Grinds on


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