Moscow claims capture of Soledar

Russian forces have suffered one military setback after another in Ukraine. On Friday, defense officials in Moscow claimed their first gain in months.

Russian troops have tried to seize the eastern city of Bakhmut since the summer, with the nearby town of Soledar becoming the focal point. Several days ago, a mercenary group claimed control of the town. Now, officials have confirmed it.

Russian Defence Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said, "The town is important for continuing our advance in the direction of Donetsk. Taking full control of Soledar enables us to cut off supply lines for Ukrainian forces to Bakhmut."

Ukrainian officials say their troops in the town continue to fight. Still, analysts at the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War say capturing Soledar is not an "operationally significant development." They say it would not necessarily mean that Bakhmut would fall next.

Human rights representatives from both sides met in Ankara to discuss providing assistance to those caught in the crossfire. Ukrainian officials say Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is working to mediate the establishment of a new "humanitarian corridor."

Dmytro Lubinets, the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, called the proposal "a good idea."

Lubinets said, "It's like a new international platform where we will discuss the problems, humanitarian problems, between Russia and Ukraine."

He added that more than 20,000 Ukrainians have been taken hostage since the fighting began.