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Russia-Ukraine war live: ‘small pockets of resistance’ from Ukraine in Soledar, says Moscow-installed official


‘Small pockets of resistance’ from Ukraine in Soledar, says Moscow-installed official

A Russia-installed official in Donetsk, Andrey Baevsky, said there were still “small pockets of resistance” from Ukraine inside the city, claiming Russian-backed troops had nearly full control.

Baekvsky, who is a Lieutenant Colonel and the deputy of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic’s parliament, told the Russian state-owned media agency “At the moment, indeed, there are still separate small pockets of resistance in Soledar, [but] our guys continue to crush the enemy in these places.”

“In general, the operation [has] developed successfully and the western outskirts of Soledar are already completely under our control,” he added.

Key events

A mural made by Banksy
A mural made by Banksy on the wall of a destroyed building in the town of Gostomel, near Kyiv, before it was removed. Photograph: Genya Savilov/AFP/Getty Images

The suspected mastermind behind the removal of a Banksy mural in a Ukrainian town could face up to 12 years in prison if found guilty, Ukraine’s interior ministry has said.

The artwork, depicting a woman in a gas mask and a dressing gown holding a fire extinguisher, was taken off a wall in the town of Hostomel on 2 December, according to officials.

The ministry announced on its website that the man it believes orchestrated the operation had been handed a “suspicion notice”, Reuters reports.

The artwork by the renowned British artist had been valued at over 9 million hryvnia (£202,000/$243,900), the ministry statement said.

“The criminals tried to transport this graffiti with the help of wooden boards and polyethylene,” it said.

“Thanks to the concern of citizens, the police and other security forces managed to arrest the criminals.”

The mural was retrieved.

Banksy confirmed he had painted the mural and six others in places that were hit by heavy fighting after Russia invaded Ukraine in late February.

Interesting thread from Minna Ålander at The Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA) on whether its 200 Leopards which have a defined role of guarding against Russian forces – could be used in Ukraine. Here are a few of the tweets but find the whole thread on Twitter.

Interestingly, Finland is internationally considered to be leading the leopard initiative, largely to the credit of the MPs @AtteHarjanne & @adleande and their op-ed supporting a European leopard coalition.

However, in Finland the matter is actually far from clear. Why ? 🧵

— Minna Ålander 🌻 (@minna_alander) January 13, 2023

In the 🇫🇮 Defence Forces, each of the 200 leopard tanks has its specific & hard-to-replace wartime positioning and is crucial for national defence.

Hence, many Finns oppose the idea that of all European Leo countries Finland, with its 1340km border with Russia, should deliver.

— Minna Ålander 🌻 (@minna_alander) January 13, 2023

On the other hand, the argument in favour of also Finland participating in a potential European leopard consortium is that the war is in Ukraine, not at our border, and it will likely take Russia some years to build back a sufficient capacity to seriously threaten Finland.

— Minna Ålander 🌻 (@minna_alander) January 13, 2023

President @niinisto stated that if a Europe-wide initiative indeed emerges, Finland should contribute – albeit in limited numbers due to our special position still outside of NATO and with the long border to Russia. That is likely what Finland will do.https://t.co/wFqfYbA2ju

— Minna Ålander 🌻 (@minna_alander) January 13, 2023

Ukraine has today said that its forces are still holding out in the eastern salt mining town of Soledar after a “hot” night of fighting in what has become one of the bloodiest battlefields of the entire war.

Reuters reports:

Both sides have endured heavy losses in the battle for the small town. Moscow is seeking what would be its first big battlefield gain after half a year of humiliating retreats. Kyiv says Russia is throwing wave upon wave of soldiers into a pointless fight for a bombed-out wasteland.

The Wagner ultra-nationalist mercenary company run by an ally of President Vladimir Putin has claimed to have taken the town. But Russia’s defence ministry has so far said little about the situation there, while a Russian-installed local official said on Thursday there were still pockets of resistance.

Ukraine’s Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar wrote on the Telegram messaging app:

The night in Soledar was hot, battles continued. The enemy threw almost all the main forces in the direction of Donetsk and maintains a high intensity of offensive. Our fighters are bravely trying to maintain the defence. This is a difficult phase of the war, but we will win. There is no doubt.

Ukraine’s security council chair Oleksiy Danilov tweeted about the plea for German tanks yesterday, and as the Economist’s Oliver Carroll points out – it’s not particularly subtle.

In light of today’s move from France to send light combat tanks to Ukraine, The New York Times’ Lara Jakes and Steven Erlanger have also examined the possibility that other countries in the West will also break a taboo that was seen as too provocative earlier in the conflict.

They write:

Western officials increasingly fear that Ukraine has only a narrow window to prepare to repel an anticipated Russian springtime offensive, and are moving fast to give the Ukrainians sophisticated weapons they had earlier refused to send for fear of provoking Moscow.

Over the last few weeks, one barrier after another has fallen, starting with an agreement by the United States in late December to send a Patriot air-defense system. That was followed by a German commitment last week to provide a Patriot missile battery, and in the span of hours, France, Germany and the United States each promised to send armored fighting vehicles to Ukraine’s battlefields for the first time.

Now it looks likely that modern Western tanks will be added to the growing list of powerful weapons being sent Ukraine’s way, as the United States and its allies take on more risk to defend Ukraine — especially as its military has made unexpected advances and held out against withering assaults.

Ukraine’s most senior military commander, General Valery Zaluzhny, has said it needs some 300 Western tanks and about 600 Western armored fighting vehicles to make a difference, reports the NYT.

France is hoping to deliver “AMX 10-RC” light combat tanks to Ukraine in two months’ time, the French armed forces minister Sébastien Lecornu said in a statement on Friday.

Reuters reports that the statement contained a summary of a phone conversation he had on Jan. 12 with his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov, in which France also reiterated its general support for Ukraine.

A close ally of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has suggested confiscating property and assets of Russians who discredit the country’s armed forces and oppose the war in Ukraine, Reuters reports.

Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the Russian Duma, said current measures, such as fines for those who speak out against what Moscow calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine, were not strict enough.

Samantha Lock

Samantha Lock

Putin has publicly scolded a senior minister and ally during a meeting broadcast on state television as sanctions from the stalling war in Ukraine caused fresh economic headaches for the Russian president.

Speaking during a live video call with officials on Wednesday, the Russian leader appeared agitated and berated deputy prime minister Denis Manturov, who is also his trade and industry minister and responsible for overseeing Russia’s weapons and defence industry and supplies of equipment for troops. Putin criticised him for working too slowly on the country’s aircraft contracts, according to a transcript of the call later published by the Kremlin:

The conflict in Ukraine has come to be defined by the use of drones, AFP reports, ranging from small commercially-available models to larger aircraft, with both sides trying to outmanoeuvre each other.

A man walks past a residential building destroyed by a Russian drone in Kyiv, Ukraine on 12 January 2023.
A man walks past a residential building destroyed by a Russian drone in Kyiv, Ukraine on 12 January 2023. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

“Both Russians and Ukrainians are now saying publicly that there are parts of the front where their military drones cannot operate, where their commercial drones can be jammed and rendered inoperable,” Pentagon press secretary Brigadier General Pat Ryder said.

More now on Soledar: Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said Thursday that Ukrainian forces defending Bakhmut and Soledar in the east would be armed with everything they need to keep Russian troops at bay in some of the bloodiest battles of the war.

Kyiv said earlier its troops were fighting to retain control of the now-battered industrial towns in the east, which Russian mercenaries claimed earlier this week to have taken.

Both sides have conceded heavy losses in the fight for Soledar and the nearby larger town of Bakhmut, which is also key to Russia’s aim to wrest all of Donetsk away from Ukraine.

The Kremlin on Thursday praised the “heroic” work by Russian forces working to capture the eastern Donetsk region from Ukraine and on other fronts.

“Huge work has been done in Soledar, absolutely selfless heroic actions, not only in Soledar,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.

“There is still a lot of work ahead. The main work is yet to come,” he added.

US envoy calls for Serbia to sign on to sanctions against Russia

A senior US envoy expressed strong concern Thursday about the activities of the Russian private military contractor Wagner Group and its alleged attempts to recruit soldiers in Serbia and elsewhere in the world.

US state department Counselor Derek Chollet also urged Serbia to introduce sanctions against its traditional Slavic ally Russia.

Senior adviser of the US Department of State, Derek Chollet (right in the picture), accompanied by the US Ambassador to Kosovo, Jeff Hovenier (left in the picture), leaves Gov building facilities in Pristina, Kosovo, on Wednesday, 11 January, 2023.
Senior adviser of the US Department of State, Derek Chollet (right in the picture), accompanied by the US Ambassador to Kosovo, Jeff Hovenier (left in the picture), leaves Gov building facilities in Pristina, Kosovo, on Wednesday, 11 January, 2023. Photograph: Vudi Xhymshiti/VX/REX/Shutterstock

“We believe that countries should sign on to the sanctions, and the reason why we believe that is because Russia’s actions do not only have to be condemned, they have to be punished,” he said.

“Russia every day is prosecuting a brutal, unjustified war against Ukraine. We need to stand together, to ensure that this behavior, it’s clear that this behavior is unacceptable.”

The US envoy this week launched a tour of several Balkan nations in a visit focused on international efforts to help normalise relations between Kosovo and Serbia after weeks of heightened tension. The former Serbian province declared independence in 2008, something Serbia and Russia don’t recognise.

‘Small pockets of resistance’ from Ukraine in Soledar, says Moscow-installed official

A Russia-installed official in Donetsk, Andrey Baevsky, said there were still “small pockets of resistance” from Ukraine inside the city, claiming Russian-backed troops had nearly full control.

Baekvsky, who is a Lieutenant Colonel and the deputy of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic’s parliament, told the Russian state-owned media agency “At the moment, indeed, there are still separate small pockets of resistance in Soledar, [but] our guys continue to crush the enemy in these places.”

“In general, the operation [has] developed successfully and the western outskirts of Soledar are already completely under our control,” he added.

Welcome and summary

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the war in Ukraine with me, Helen Sullivan.

A Russia-installed official in Donetsk, Andrey Baevsky, said there were still “small pockets of resistance” from Ukraine inside the city, claiming Russian-backed troops had nearly full control.

Baekvsky, who is a Lieutenant Colonel and the deputy of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic’s parliament, told the Russian state-owned media agency “At the moment, indeed, there are still separate small pockets of resistance in Soledar, [but] our guys continue to crush the enemy in these places.” He said western Soledar was under full Russian control.

Ukrainian forces are “holding on” as “fierce fighting” continues in the town, Ukraine’s deputy defence minister, Hanna Maliar, said on Thursday.

We’ll have more on this shortly. In the meantime here are the other key recent developments:

  • Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, said on Thursday that Ukrainian forces defending Bakhmut and Soledar in the east would be armed with everything they need to keep Russian troops at bay in some of the bloodiest fighting of the war. Kyiv said earlier its troops were fighting to retain control of the now-battered industrial towns in the east, which Russian mercenaries claimed earlier this week to have taken.

  • Hundreds of civilians remain trapped in Soledar, Ukraine has said, as bloody fighting continues over control of the largely destroyed salt mining town. Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor of Donetsk, told Ukrainian state TV that 559 civilians remained in Soledar, including 15 children, and could not be evacuated.

  • Satellite images taken by Maxar Technologies show the destruction inflicted upon Soledar. The Guardian has a series of striking images from inside the eastern Ukrainian town.

  • President Vladimir Putin’s move to replace his top commander in Ukraine after a few months is a sign of military disarray and his growing impatience in a war Russia is not winning, analysts said. The defence ministry in Moscow said Wednesday it had, again, replaced its top commander in Ukraine, putting army chief of staff Valery Gerasimov in charge. It is the latest of several major shake-ups of Moscow’s military leadership.

  • More than a dozen senior EU officials will meet members of the Ukrainian government in Kyiv on 2 February, a day before the EU-Ukraine summit, a European Commission spokeswoman said Thursday.

  • A spokesperson for Ukraine’s air force command has warned of the possibility of missile attacks from Belarus. In a televised statement today, Yurii Ihnat said it was from Belarusian territory that most of the ballistic missiles were launched at the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. During a visit to Lviv on Wednesday, Zelenskiy called for his forces to be “ready both at the border and in the regions” near Belarus amid fears Russia may launch a fresh assault from the north.

  • The head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has claimed his forces have found the body of one of two British voluntary aid workers reported missing in eastern Ukraine. In a statement published on his Telegram channel late on Wednesday, Prigozhin did not mention the name of the dead man but said documents belonging to both Britons had been found on his body.

  • A former Russian deputy minister of defence has suggested the country could increase the upper age limit for conscription from 27 to 30 for this year’s spring draft campaign. Andrey Kartapolov, the head of the State Duma defence committee, suggested the change could take place without altering the lower bar for conscription of 18 years.

  • The commander of Russia’s ground forces, Oleg Salyukov, visited Belarus on Thursday to inspect the combat readiness of a joint force stationed there, the Belarusian defence ministry said. Salyukov was yesterday named as one of the deputy commanders of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine in the latest of a series of reshuffles. His visit came as Russia and Belarus have expanded their joint military training exercises in Belarus.

  • A US navy veteran has been released after almost a year in Russian detention, according to his family. Taylor Dudley, 35, of Michigan, was taken into custody by Russian border police last April after crossing the border from Poland into Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania.

  • A Ukrainian soldier has had successful surgery to remove an unexploded grenade from his chest, senior officials in Kyiv have said. Surgeons removed the weapon from just beneath the heart of the injured serviceman, while two sappers ensured the operation was conducted safely, said Hanna Maliar, Ukraine’s deputy minister of defence.





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