FAR FROM THE FIGHT Ukrainian soldiers watch as smoke billows during fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces in the city of Soledar, Donetsk province, eastern Ukraine on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023. AP PHOTO
KYIV: The fate of a devastated salt-mining city in eastern Ukraine hung in the balance on Wednesday in one of the bloodiest battles of Russia’s invasion, while Kyiv’s unflagging resistance and other challenges prompted Moscow to shake up its military leadership again.
Russian forces have used jets, mortars and rockets to bombard Soledar unrelentingly. Its fall, while unlikely a turning point in the nearly 11-month war, would be a prize for a Kremlin starved of good battlefield news in recent months.
It would also offer Russian troops a springboard to conquer other areas of Donetsk province that remain under Ukrainian control, such as the nearby strategic city of Bakhmut.
Donetsk and neighboring Luhansk province, which together make up the Donbas region bordering Russia, were Moscow’s main stated territorial targets in invading Ukraine, bu