Pro-Russian group in Ukraine claims capture of town near stronghold of Bakhmut

Fierce fighting continues around the Ukrainian stronghold of Bakhmut in the eastern part of the country, and leaders of a local pro-Russian group claim that they have captured a town nearby.

The leaders told Russian media on Wednesday that the whole town of Soledar is now under their control.

Soledar is located about 10 kilometers to the north of Bakhmut in the eastern region of Donetsk. Russia had mobilized mercenary fighters from the Wagner Group to seize the gateway town.

There has been no response from the Ukrainian side so far. But Ukraine's deputy defense minister Hanna Maliar wrote on social media on Tuesday that the enemy disregards the heavy losses of its personnel and continues to storm actively.

Ukraine has vowed to protect Bakhmut, and fighting is expected to further escalate in the region.

The Institute for the Study of War, a US think tank, said on Tuesday that Russian forces have largely struggled to make significant tactical gains in the Soledar area for months.

It added, "Even taking the most generous Russian claims at face value, the capture of Soledar would not portend an immediate encirclement of Bakhmut."