Ukraine war live updates: Battle for Soledar not over yet, Zelenskyy says; Putin’s military reshuffle reflects power struggle

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy again rejected Russia’s claims to have to have encircled and captured the salt-mining town of Soledar in Donetsk, saying fighting continues to hold the town.

“The fighting continues. The Donetsk direction is holding out. And we do everything, without stopping for a single day, to strengthen Ukrainian defense,” he said in his nightly address.

There were confusing reports Wednesday as to whether Russian and Wagner Group (a private Russian military company) forces had taken control of the town, after the head of the Wagner Group Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed Tuesday that his force had captured the town.

The Kremlin said Wednesday, however, that reporters should await a statement from the Ministry of Defense on the status of Soledar. Later, the ministry said its own elite airborne units had surrounded Soledar from the north and south and that “assault squads” were fighting in the town center.

The update from the Russian Ministry of Defense was seen by analysts as a bid by the Russian military — which has been criticized by Prigozhin — to assert its authority over, and to undermine, the Wagner Group leader.

In addition, President Vladimir Putin’s military reshuffle on Wednesday, in which he put loyalist Gen. Valery Gerasimov in charge of troops fighting in Ukraine and replacing Gen. Sergei Surovikin — who was supported by Prigozhin — has also been seen as part of this power struggle between the Russian military, and Prigozhin and his Wagner Group.

Satellite images collected and released by Maxar Technologies show the destruction wrought upon the eastern Ukrainian towns of Soledar and Bakhmut in Donetsk, where fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces has been going on for months.

Maxar collected new high-resolution satellite imagery between Jan. 3-10 that helps to convey the magnitude and intensity of the ongoing fighting in the area around both towns, with both Russia and Ukraine claiming to have killed hundreds of each other’s troops on a daily basis.

The satellite imagery released by Maxar reveals thousands of bomb craters in fields and along roads in and around the two towns as well as the destruction of homes, schools and farm buildings.

Maxar satellite imagery showing school and buildings destroyed in Bakhmutske, just to the immediate south of Soledar, in Ukraine.

he image above shows destroyed buildings destroyed in Bakhmutske, just to the immediate south of Soledar. The one below shows fields marked by craters from relentless artillery exchanges.