January 28, 2023

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The head of the Russian-occupied parts of Donetsk said he visited Solidar

(Reuters) – The senior official appointed by Moscow in occupied parts of eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region said late on Sunday that he had visited the town of Solidar, which Russia claimed it captured earlier this month.

Official Dennis Pushlin posted a short video clip on the messaging app Telegram that showed him driving and walking through uninhabited areas and destroyed buildings.

“I visited Solidar today,” Pushlin said in an accompanying statement.

Reuters could not independently verify when and where the video was taken.

On Jan. 11, Russia’s private military group Wagner said it had captured Solidar, and the Russian-installed authorities in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region said last week they were in control of the salt-mining town.

Ukraine has never said publicly that the town was captured by Russian forces. On Sunday, the General Staff of its Armed Forces said in a daily update that Russian forces had fired on Ukrainian positions in the area.

In his statement, Pushlin said the Solidar mines were damaged and “difficult” to go down to.

The city, along with Bakhmut just to the northeast, has been the focus of intense fighting for months, with Russian proxy forces last week claiming to have also captured Klishchevka, a small village near Bakhmut.

The so-called Donetsk People’s Republic is one of four regions in Ukraine that Moscow declared its vassal in September in an exercise Ukraine and its allies described as a forced “sham” referendum.

(Reporting by Lydia Kelly in Melbourne; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)