Carnage, Chaos And Destruction As Russia Claims Control Of Eastern Ukrainian City

(Photo by ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP via Getty Images)

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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Russia claimed control of the Ukrainian city of Soledar in the east after months of brutal fighting, but Ukraine’s defense ministry disputed that the city had fallen Friday, according to media reports.

It would be the first city to fall under Russian control in months and follows Ukraine’s victory in retaking a key strategic city from Russia, CNN reported. Although Kyiv has not officially conceded defeat, CNN journalists on the ground in the region witnessed what they said appeared to be an organized retreat of Ukrainian troops after a bloody struggle to hold the city unraveled in recent days, the outlet reported.

“Over the past three days alone, more than seven hundred Ukrainian servicemen and over three hundred units of weapons of the Armed Forces of Ukraine have been destroyed near the city of Soledar,” Russia’s defense ministry said in a statement to Russian media outlet Sputnik News.

Full “liberation” of the city occurred Thursday evening, Russia claimed. Analysts at the Institute for the Study of War said Soledar had likely fallen into Russian hands after heavy artillery fire and missile bombardments.

“We tried to withdraw ourselves, but the Orcs [Russians] are already there,” a Ukrainian soldier told CNN on Thursday. “If there is no order to withdraw today, we will most likely not have time to leave. (RELATED: Putin Says Russia Is At ‘War’ For The First Time As Moscow Touts Progress In Demilitarizing Ukraine)

“We were told that we would be withdrawn. And now we аre just abandoned,” the soldier added.

Ukrainian troops in the city had nearly run out of food and water, but fighters still had some ammunition, the soldier told CNN.

“The last evacuation was three days ago. The order was to hold out to the very end,” he said. Although he lacked complete information, other units had likely been ordered to withdraw.

“We were told to hold out,” he said.

The city of Soledar has seen brutal fighting for months as Ukrainian forces repelled a Russian onslaught, but in recent days Moscow’s forces appeared to achieve the upper hand, CNN reported.

Reports of the city falling are “not true,” Eastern Group of the Armed Forces of Ukraine spokesperson Serhiy Cherevaty said, according to CNN. “Fighting is going on in the city.”

Capture of Soledar is “important for the continuation of successful offensive operations in the Donetsk region,” a breakaway region of Ukraine that Russia has occupied since the early months of the war, according to CNN. “Establishing control over Soledar makes it possible to cut off the supply routes for Ukrainian troops in Bakhmut,” a contested city near the front, the ministry said.

Russia’s mercenary Wagner group claimed to have overrun the city on its own, according to CNN.

The Ukrainian foreign ministry and defense ministry did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.

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