The leader of the Russian mercenary group Wagner claimed that his forces had completed the takeover of the Ukrainian city of solder, which, if confirmed, would mark Moscow’s first major success on the battlefield since last summer. “Wagner’s units have taken control of the entire territory of Soledar,” Yevgeny Prigozhin said in an audio message broadcast on his Telegram channel on Tuesday evening. Soledar, home to huge salt mines, has symbolic, military and commercial value for Russia.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy thanked ‘heroic’ Soledar defenders but gave no update on the military situation in his Tuesday night address.
Russian forces trained tank, mortar and artillery fire on AvdiivkaUkrainian armed forces said a second home for Russia south of Bakhmut and not far from the city of Donetsk, held by Russian proxies since 2014.
Russian artillery fire in Ukraine has dropped dramatically from its wartime record level, in some places as much as 75%, according to US and Ukrainian officials. The drop in shelling is further evidence of Russia’s increasingly weak position on the battlefield nearly a year after its invasion, officials told CNN. Officials did not give a clear or unique explanation behind the striking drop in artillery fire.
Western officials have warned that Ukraine will not be able to retake a significant amount of territory from Russia without an increase in its military capabilities, including tanks and armored vehicles. Russian and Ukrainian forces are currently too close for the Ukrainians to mount a major offensive, a Western official said Tuesday. They said a reported Ukrainian call for 300 tanks was “not an unreasonable number” to create the mass of force needed for them to continue the attack.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday that his government would buy an American air defense system to donate to Ukraine. The US-built air defense system was worth C$406 million (US$302 million), Defense Minister Anita Anand said. “Canada will continue to stand with the people of Ukraine in their fight against Russia’s illegal and unjustifiable invasion,” Anand said.
Ukrainian troops are expected to begin training on the Patriot missile system in the United States as early as next week, U.S. officials said. The training program will take place at Fort Sill in Oklahoma, and the program is expected to last “several months,” one said. During Zelenskiy’s visit to the US in December, Joe Biden announced $1.85bn (£1.54bn) in new military assistance to Kyiv, including the delivery of a battery system from Patriot missiles. The United States is also reportedly considering sending Stryker armored fighting vehicles to Ukraine. The move could be announced next week, but no final decision has been made, Politico reported, citing two sources familiar with the matter.
Russia appointed Colonel-General Alexander Lapin as Chief of Staff of the Land Forces of the countrystate news agency TASS reported, despite criticism from Hawks over his performance in Ukraine.
The family of one of two Britons missing in Ukraine have said they are “very worried and concerned” about his health. Chris Parry, 28, was last seen on Friday with fellow Briton Andrew Bagshaw, 48, heading to the town of Soledar in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region. The men worked as volunteers to help people evacuate from the front line.
Reuters and Agence France-Presse contributed to this report