The Eastern Axis - Soledar
A mix of Russian soldiers, conscripts, and mercenaries advance over the corpses of their fallen comrades in pursuit of claiming the Ukrainian salt-mining town of Soledar as their own.
"Russia is driving its own people to the slaughter by the thousands" Hanna Malyar, Ukraine's Deputy Defense Minister claims as Russian forces continue their relentless war of attrition, although recent reports show a decrease of up to 75% in the number of kinetic munitions used by Russian artillery on the eastern Ukrainian front.
Russia's Wagner mercenaries, headed by Yevginiy Prigozhin, claim to have taken control of all of Soledar, though this is strongly disputed by Ukrainian officials, and by trusted and verified OSINT channnels.
The ISW assess that Russian forces have clearly not captured Soledar despite multiple claims from Russian sources. Many Russian milbloggers claim that the capture of Soledar will lead to the encirclement of Bakhmut and its demise. This is false. Russian forces remain a significant distance from severing the Ukrainian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) needed to encircle Bakhmut. The Russian offensive, specifically on Bakhmut, is likely to culminate imminently due to heavily degraded resources and faltering resupply. Russia can't sustain their own attrition.
Aerial Imagery of the Destruction of Soledar Infrastructure
Why Soledar? Why The Eastern Axis?
One of Putin's main goals is the illegal seizure of the Donbas region, made up of the Donetsk and Luhanks Oblasts. Capturing Bakhumt, and Soledar - known for its salt and gypsum mines, would give Russia and the Wagner Group a rare victory after their embarrassing withdrawals from Kharkiv and Kerson a few months ago. It is important to note that Bakhmut and Soledar are only considered 'strategic' locations due to the lack of victories elsewhere for the Russian military.
Eastern Front Continued
With this push for Bakhmut and Soledar, Russia has also allocated additional VDV forces to reinforce the Kreminna front. The eastern axis is set to become significantly more volatile over the next few weeks as Russia expend more men towards these locations while Ukraine defiantly defend ground which they have retaken.
We will pay close attention to developments on the eastern front over the next few days.