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Ukr forces pull back from Donbas

Ukrainian forces have conducted an organised retreat from a town in the eastern region of the Donbas, an official said on Wednesday, in what is a rare but modest battlefield triumph for the Kremlin after a series of setbacks in its invasion that began almost 11 months ago.

The Ukrainian army retreated from the salt-mining town of Soledar to “preserve the lives of the personnel”, Serhii Cherevatyi, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s forces in the east, told The Associated Press.

The soldiers pulled back to previously prepared defensive positions, he said.

Moscow has portrayed the battle for Soledar, which lies near the city of Bakhmut, as key to capturing the entire Donbas.

The accomplishment takes the Russian forces a step closer to Bakhmut, but military analysts say capturing Soledar is more symbolic than strategic.

Ukraine’s military, which has held out in Soledar against a monthslong onslaught of superior Russian forces, has said its fierce defence of the eastern stronghold helped tie up Russian forces.

Russia claimed almost two weeks ago that it had taken Soledar, but Ukraine denied it.

Many of Russia’s troops around Soledar belong to the private Russian military contractor Wagner Group, and the fighting reportedly has been bloody.

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