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Wagner’s Prigozhin using success in Soledar to bolster his group’s reputation, says ISW

Earlier on Jan. 9, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said that Russian forces had begun another major assault of Soledar after their previous attempt had failed.

Read also: Battles of Soledar and Bakhmut critical for liberating Donbas, Zelenskyy says

The ISW said Wagner Group forces claimed to have captured territory within Soledar over the past few days, and many Russian sources have discussed the gains as indicators that Wagner mercenaries may soon encircle the town of Bakhmut.

Read also: Ukrainian soldier on why Russia now eyes Soledar instead of Bakhmut

In particular, combat footage widely circulated on social media on Jan. 9 shows Wagner mercenaries engaging in fierce small arms combat near the city administration building in central Soledar. Prigozhin has emphasized that, according to him, “exclusively” Wagner mercenary units are taking ground in Soledar and noted that the mercenaries are currently engaged in “fierce battles for the city administration building.”

Read also: Russia launches another assault at Soledar, defense ministry says

According to the ISW, Prigozhin will continue to use both confirmed and fabricated successes in Soledar and Bakhmut to promote his mercenary company as the only Russian force in Ukraine capable of securing tangible gains.

Read also: Malyar says situation in the east difficult, really hard in Soledar

Other key takeaways by ISW analysts:

· Russian dictator Vladimir Putin continues to open the door to further institutionalized corruption in Russia through domestic legislation manipulations;

· Russian Security Council Deputy Chairperson Dmitry Medvedev likely gauged the willingness of the Russian information space for the censorship of figures deemed as pro-Ukrainian sympathizers, garnering some acceptance from the nationalist milblogger community;

· Russian and Ukrainian forces continued offensive operations along the Svatove-Kreminna line;

· Ukrainian partisans may be targeting critical Russian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) in rear areas of Luhansk Oblast;

· Russian forces conducted ground attacks across the Donetsk Oblast frontline and made gains around Soledar and Bakhmut;

· Russian forces continued to reinforce positions on the east (left) bank of Kherson Oblast;

· Russian forces continued to construct defensive fortifications and transport military equipment in Zaporizhzhya Oblast amid continued concerns over a possible Ukrainian counteroffensive in the area;

· Russian and Ukrainian sources indicated that a second wave of mobilization may be imminent or ongoing.

Read also: Russian forces have nearly razed Soledar to the ground, says military

Read also: Ukrainian military denies reports that Russian invasion forces captured Soledar

Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine