Heavy fighting for Bakhmut, Soledar, Kreminna, and other towns in Donbas continues, as Russia has concentrated the bulk of its forces in the region, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his Jan. 13 evening address.
"...our soldiers – the Armed Forces of Ukraine, all the defense and security forces – are defending the country,” Zelenskyy said.
“I thank every soldier, sergeant, and officer of the brigades and other army units who bravely and persistently carry out their order! Thank you to the fighters of the Kraken unit for their determined actions to destroy the enemy in around Soledar! Thank you to the soldiers of the International Legion and the Shaman unit, who are bravely defending Bakhmut!”
Zelenskyy also noted actions of the employees of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine, who help knit a coalition of “our partners – for Ukraine and our defenders,” as well as the employees of Ukraine’s SBU security service, who are working to uncover Russian collaborators in Ukraine.
In an interview with French newspaper Le Monde on Jan. 13, Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, Andriy Yermak, described ongoing fighting at Bakhmut and Soledar, Donetsk Oblast, as “very difficult,” comparing it to the WWI Battle of Verdun.
Russian military command appears to have become obsessed with seizing Soledar, in the first weeks of 2023.
Earlier, Ukraine’s Operational Command East spokesman Serhiy Cherevyi reported that Russia had deployed the bulk of its forces, including Wagner mercenaries, near Soledar in Donetsk Oblast.
By Jan. 13, Russian media were already claiming victory in the battle for Soledar, while Ukraine’s General Staff maintains that fighting for the town continues. Conquering Soledar would enable Moscow’s forces to put increased pressure on nearby Bakhmut.