Soledar Collapses — Sanctions Next?

Per Southfront.org: https://southfront.org/breaking-russians-captured-afu-stronghold-soledar/

On 10 January 2022, in the late afternoon, official media sources of the Russian Wagner PMC stated that the city of Soledar had been captured by Russian units.

Soledar was one of the key points of defence of the AFU in the East of Ukraine. The city is home to Europe’s largest salt production facility.

Evgeny Prigoggin, head of the Wagner PMC, announced:
“Wagner PMC units have taken control of the entire territory of Soledar. A cauldron has been formed in the centre of the city, where urban fighting is taking place. The number of prisoners will be announced tomorrow.
I should like to stress once again that no units other than those of the Wagner Cheka were involved in the storming of Soledar.”

Prigozhin himself was also in the ranks of his warriors in Soledar.

BREAKING. Russians Captured AFU Stronghold Soledar

Prigozhin and his soldiers stand at the Salt Mine Museum, which is already closer to the western outskirts of Soledar, confirming full control of the town.

It is currently known that the city, for the most part including the centre, was occupied by Wagner PMC assault groups. The PMC units took all the dominant heights around the city, including Yurchina Mountain, taking direct fire control of the AFU supply roads and outposts. Several hundred more Ukrainian soldiers reportedly remain in the city.

A mopping-up of the city is underway.

The active phase of fighting for Soledar lasted more than four months, but the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ defences were resistant to regular army units and they were subsequently withdrawn from the front line. It took the Wagner Group just over two weeks to take the city directly.

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Additional reports:

Updated map showing RF/DPR advances west (note the “cauldron” left behind in Soledar center city — “Mariupol 2.0” — comprising NATO mercenaries)

Here is Meaning in History: https://meaninginhistory.substack.com/p/report-from-the-sanctions-front-with

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Report From The Sanctions Front, With Ukraine Update

Mark Wauck

Before we get to the sanctions front, here’s a brief update on the developments in the fighting at Soledar near Bakhmut in the Donbass. It’s sounding like the Russian forces have achieved some sort of breakthrough that significantly advances the slow encirclement of Bakhmut itself. Zelensky’s top adviser, Arestovich, has said: “We are on the defensive, they are advancing.”

This afternoon the reporting on the fighting at Soledar is hot and heavy. Soledar is just north of Bakhmut in the Donbass and secures the northern approaches to Bakhmut. The fall of Soledar will therefore place Ukrainian forces in Bakhmut in even more jeopardy. Reports indicate that Soledar has basically fallen, while pockets of Ukrainian and possibly Polish troops remain trapped in the area. The following tweets are not comprehensive nor authoritative, merely typical of reporting:

If you click on the map below, you’ll see that there are English sub-captions:

In the following discussion—all 21 minutes of which is quite interesting—Douglas Macgregor asserts again what he has been saying for about a week. The Ukrainian forces in the south are crumbling, having been stripped of their best units which have been sent to Bakhmut. I take that reference to refer to the areas in the north of the Zaporozhye Oblast, where Ukraine had been building up forces for an offensive toward Melitopol:

Russian Occupation of Zaporizhzhia Oblast.svg

The significance of what Macgregor is saying is that Russia has built up a very significant force in Zaporozhye and could open up an avenue for a relatively quick advance to the north, trapping the major portion of Ukrainian forces in the Donbass area.

Now, on to the sanctions front. Yesterday, Alex Mercouris remarked that Japan has been basically ignoring the sanctions regime and continues to import huge amounts of oil and gas from Russia. I’m not sure exactly where the Russian oil and gas is coming from. Russian oil from the Arctic is currently transported by tankers to China and India, but there are other possibilities. So, when I saw this item my interest was sparked:

Japan has joint energy projects with Russia in the Sakhalin region, which it has continued despite the sanctions. Sakhalin lies directly north of Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, and prior to WW2 was split in half between Russia and Japan:

Sakhalin, Russia: Visiting a Place Few Will Ever See - GoNOMAD Travel

The result of all this?

Russia-Japan trade surges despite sanctions – media

The growth is being driven by high global energy prices

Trade between Russia and Japan saw an annual increase of 10% in the first 11 months of 2022 despite Ukraine-related sanctions introduced against Moscow by the West, according to estimates made by TASS, based on Japanese trade statistics.

In monetary terms, bilateral trade reportedly amounted to 2.365 trillion yen (some $18 billion).

Russia, one of the world’s biggest oil producers and exporters, remains one of the major suppliers of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Japan. The sanctions-hit country accounts for about 9% of Japanese imports of the fuel. Russian gas accounts for 3% of electricity generation in Japan.

Nevertheless:

Tokyo reduced purchases of Russian crude to almost zero in July and August. Moreover, Japan has joined the oil price cap scheme adopted by the Group Seven nations last month. The mechanism bans Russian oil cargoes that are traded above $60 per barrel from getting key services provided by Western companies, including insurance. The price ceiling may be revised depending on market conditions.

What’s going on here? This: Oil and gas from Sakhalin to Japan is excluded from the sanctions regime.

Hypocritical? Realistic? Both? But it doesn’t bode well for the economic war against Russia. The US is a long way off from Japan. Although US bases are near, supply lines are very long. China and Russia are very near.

So here’s what Alex Krainer is talking about today:

Is war on China in the offing?

US military is working hard on “setting the theater” for war on China, emulating the success it’s had in Ukraine.

I don’t know whether we’ll have a war on China this year, but it does appear that the western empire, led by the United States, is preparing for it in earnest. On Sunday, 10 January, Lieutenant General James Bierman, the commanding general of the Third Marine Expeditionary Force and of Marine Forces Japan gave an interview to the Financial Times in which he said that his command is working hard to replicate the empire’s military success in Ukraine. 

I still want to believe that all this crazy talk will end up going nowhere, thwarted by the pressure of events in the Real World.

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