In an assessment of the situation on the ground in Soledar and Bakhmut, in eastern Ukraine, US Intelligence has said that Russian forces do not have full control over either of these settlements.
Quote from Kirby: "I will tell you that as of this morning, we do not estimate that [the Russians - ed.] have actually taken over both cities unilaterally."
Details: Kirby said that fierce battles are raging in this part of Donbas, especially in the vicinity of Soledar. According to the US Intelligence assessment, control over the town remains contested.
Kirby also said that any gains the Russians had made in recent days have come at a cost, with many Russian soldiers killed in battle. He added that Russian efforts in the region are led mainly by [Russian oligarch] Yevgeny Prigozhin and his Wagner Group [a private military company], with some support from the Russian military.
Kirby believes that Prigozhin wants to be considered more relevant and indispensable on the battlefield than Russia’s traditional armed forces. There is ongoing tension between Russia’s Defence Ministry and the Prigozhin-led Wagner Group.