Russia-Ukraine war latest updates: Soledar fighting ‘brutal’ despite Wagner claims, Austin says


Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that he could not corroborate reports that Soledar, a salt mining town in eastern Ukraine, was under Russian control, as fighting reportedly continued to rage in the area near Bakhmut.

Both sides sought to control the narrative in one of the bloodiest battles in recent months. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky dismissed claims that Russian forces and Wagner Group mercenaries had seized the town. For Russia, the victory would be a symbolic and tactical win, experts say.

But even as Moscow appeared to make some gains, Russia’s Defense Minister abruptly replaced his commanding general in Ukraine, an apparent nod to the battlefield setbacks that have hobbled the wider military campaign.

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

3. From our correspondents

According to additional Finance Ministry figures published by Russian business newspaper RBC, Russia’s annual budget expenditure also shot up by nearly 26 percent in 2022, apparently driven by military costs. The figures provide Russia’s own sobering measure of the economic costs of President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine, which the Kremlin has sought to minimize. The costs, in blood and gold, are mounting, and are expected to rise even further in 2023.

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