Ukrainian forces are still holding out in the eastern mining town of Soledar despite a massive Russian onslaught, Ukraine’s deputy defence minister said.
The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence said earlier on Tuesday that Russia had probably captured most of the town after four days of advances, a rare success for Moscow’s troops after a string of humiliating retreats last year.
“Heavy fighting to hold on to Soledar continues. The enemy disregards the heavy losses of its personnel and continues to storm actively,” Ukraine’s deputy defence minister Hanna Maliar said in a statement.
“The approaches to our posi
tions are simply strewn with the bodies of dead enemy fighters. Our fighters are bravely holding the defence.”
Soledar is 20km (12 miles) away from the highly contested city of Bakhmut, where both sides have suffered large losses.
“Part of the fighting has focused on entrances to the 200km-long [124-mile] disused salt mine tunnels which run underneath the district. Both sides are likely concerned that they could be used for infiltration behind their lines,” the UK’s defence ministry said.
Russia’s Wagner Group of mercenary fighters has been attempting to take Bakhmut and Soledar for months, despite the heavy loss of life.
According to Ukrainian journalist Yuriy Butusov in Soledar, Russian forces have established control over the main Ukrainian supply route to the town.
“This is not a complete encirclement but normal supply along the route is impossible [and] this is critical for defence,” he said.
Seizing Bakhmut would allow Moscow’s troops to advance to two more prominent cities, Kramatorsk and Sloviansk.
Last week, a United States official said the head of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, was also eyeing Bakhmut for its salt and gypsum mines, which are believed to extend for more than 160km (100 miles).
Prigozhin, whose fighters are also active across Africa and the Middle East, has released videos showing himself recruiting fighters in Russian prisons with offers of pardons if they survive fighting in Ukraine.
Owen Matthews, author of Overreach: The Inside Story of Putin’s War Against Ukraine, said the prominence of the Wagner Group in the war is due to the fact its troops are “expendables”.
“Essentially the deaths of former prisoners and mercenaries will not have the same kind of political impact potentially on opinion at home that the deaths of ‘ordinary soldiers’ from ordinary towns would have,” Matthews told Al Jazeera.
“That said, they are incredibly willing to die for either money if they’re mercenaries or their freedom if they’re prisoners.”
The Kremlin, whose invasion of its neighbour 10 months ago has suffered numerous reversals, is hungry for victories. Russia illegally annexed Donetsk and three other Ukrainian provinces in September but its troops have struggled to advance.
After Ukrainian forces recaptured the southern city of Kherson in November, the battle heated up around Bakhmut.
Maliar said Russia has thrown “a large number of storm groups” into the fight for the city.
“The enemy is advancing literally on the bodies of their own soldiers and is massively using artillery, rocket launchers and mortars, hitting their own troops,” she said.
Pavlo Kyrylenko, Ukraine’s governor for the Donetsk region, on Tuesday described the Russian attacks on Soledar and Bakhmut as relentless.
“The Russian army is reducing Ukrainian cities to rubble using all kinds of weapons in their scorched-earth tactics,” Kyrylenko said in televised remarks. “Russia is waging a war without rules, resulting in civilian deaths and suffering.”
The Moscow-backed leader of the occupied areas of Donetsk said Russia’s forces were “very close” to taking over Soledar. But the gains were coming “at a very high price”, Denis Pushilin told Russian state TV.
In his late-night address on Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Bakhmut and Soledar were holding on despite intense attacks.
“Everything is completely destroyed, there is almost no life left. The whole land near Soledar is covered with the corpses of the occupiers and scars from the strikes. This is what madness looks like,” he said.
The intense eastern battles come as Ukrainian officials warn Russia is preparing troops for a new offensive, possibly in the capital Kyiv.
For its part, Russia says it will not mobilise more troops.
Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, reporting from Kyiv, said Soledar is of “huge strategic importance” given its sprawling tunnels
“Soledar is a salt-mining town … and it has a vast network of underground tunnels, around 200km [124 miles] of tunnels, some of which are as high as 30 metres,” Stratford said.
“The Russians are saying that the Ukrainians are using those tunnels as defensive positions and to store ammunition… So we can only speculate that the fighting there is particularly intense because it is of such strategic and military importance.
“Whether we are going to start seeing such a thing as the siege we saw around the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol many months ago remains to be seen.”
Russia began what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24, claiming Ukraine’s close ties with the West and ambition to join NATO posed a security threat. Kyiv and its allies accuse Moscow of an unprovoked war to seize territory from Ukraine.
Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said in an interview on Tuesday the West aimed to “pull Russia apart, and eventually just erase it from the political map of the world”.
The West has denied such accusations.
Tattoo Artist, Entrepreneur, and Oil Painter Kirby van Beek Makes a Mark in the Industry
Kirby van Beek, a talented tattoo artist, entrepreneur, and oil painter, has emerged as a prominent figure in the world of tattooing, showcasing his expertise in black and grey realism. Known for his distinctive designs and captivating portraits with a dark twist, Kirby has established himself as a highly regarded artist, earning recognition both locally and internationally.
Kirby’s journey as a tattoo artist began at the age of 18 when he taught himself the art form while simultaneously pursuing his education in forensic science. During this time, he displayed unparalleled dedication, working at a morgue during the week and honing his tattooing skills during weekends and spare hours. Kirby’s passion for tattooing led him to work at various tattoo studios in the Netherlands, solidifying his experience and expertise in the field.
About Kirby van Beek:
Kirby van Beek is a talented tattoo artist, entrepreneur, and oil painter based in [City]. Renowned for his expertise in black and grey realism, Kirby’s distinctive designs and captivating portraits with a dark twist have earned him a prominent position in the industry. With a passion for tattooing and oil painting, Kirby aspires to become a globally recognized artist, leaving a lasting impact on the world of art.
«The things I love most about tattooing is meeting different clients and getting to know them on a personal level during a long tattoo session,» says Kirby. «There is nothing more rewarding than tattooing individuals who appreciate my art so much that they choose to wear it on their skin for life.»
Specializing in realistic black and grey tattoos, portrait tattoos, and horror tattoos, Kirby’s work has garnered attention both nationally and internationally. His talents have been showcased at several tattoo conventions abroad, and his captivating designs have been featured in prominent tattoo magazines. Additionally, he has been recognized by esteemed publications such as LINDA magazine in the Netherlands and the local newspaper BN de Stem. Furthermore, Kirby’s exceptional skills led him to participate as a tattoo artist in the Dutch version of MTV’s Just Tattoo of Us.
Looking ahead, Kirby aspires to become a world-renowned tattoo artist and oil painter, with a particular focus on portrait tattoos and dark horror tattoos.
His ultimate goal is to reach clients and famous individuals around the globe, sharing his unique artistry and leaving an indelible mark on the industry. In the future, Kirby envisions opening an art show to showcase his diverse body of work.
DJ Khenya Takes Center Stage at Blue Marlin Ibiza, Spreading Joy and Connection
The music of DJ Khenya pulsates with rhythm and emotion. A rich mélange of sun-kissed sounds that blend percussive beats with indie and deep house. The artist’s journey to Ibiza has laid the foundation for a musical expression that communicates joy and connectivity. Taking the reins at Blue Marlin Ibiza, Khenya’s vibrations will inspire dance floor dreamers to move and let go.
From the stage at Blue Marlin Ibiza, DJ Khenya has shared experiences alongside some of the most influential names in the music industry. When asked about the impact of these experiences, the artist responded humbly: «The truth is I feel lucky. I have total admiration for them as they are a source of inspiration for me.»
The energy at Blue Marlin Ibiza is unlike any other, according to DJ Khenya. He describes the place as «a life experience,» synonymous with summer and with all the ingredients to feel in a state of bliss when you’re there. He thanks the team for being like a family to him and for everything they’ve done.
This summer, DJ Khenya will take his audience on a journey filled with unforgettable emotions. He comments, «My goal is to transmit uplifting and unforgettable sensations. My audience is what sets my heart on fire, and I want them to feel my desire to make them dance.»
The path that led DJ Khenya to become a DJ began in Havacia, Cuba, where he grew up in an environment where rhythm, dance, and poetry are like the air we breathe. With son and salsa running through his veins, his first experience at an electronic music party in the early 2000s marked a shift in his life. Khenya recalls hearing ‘The Underground’ by Celeda and says, «It was a different Cuba, and I loved it. I think from that moment, something changed inside me. A seed had been planted, and life would take me in that direction.»
Having traveled the world and now based in Ibiza, DJ Khenya reflects on how these experiences have shaped his identity as an artist. He comments, «Traveling the world is a privilege that every human being should have, especially an artist because when you have these experiences, you can understand different ways of life and the musicality of each place. Creativity is born from that knowledge, and I still have a lot to learn in that sense.»
This summer, DJ Khenya promises to take Blue Marlin Ibiza to new heights with his unique music and his desire to make everyone dance. The experience is guaranteed to be a celebration of life, joy, and connection through music.
Oliver Rouz: Weaving Ink and Inspiration into a Legacy
Born on February 13th, 1988, Oliver Rouz’s path to success is one marked by determination, passion, and the pursuit of creative endeavors. From a young age, Oliver exhibited a profound love for various forms of creativity, which ultimately led him to become one of the country’s most celebrated tattoo artists.
During his school years, Oliver’s artistic talent set him apart. His favorite cartoon characters became his canvas as he tirelessly recreated them in his own style. However, drawing was merely a pastime during his teenage years, a source of pleasure until music took center stage in his life.
In 2005, Oliver formed the «Fairy Tale Jelissa Rose» band, a pivotal moment that expanded his horizons. Immersed in the music community, he developed a newfound fascination with tattoos and ink artistry, spurred by the band’s association with the tattoo culture.
A serendipitous encounter with Artem at the «Quick Silver» shop in Moscow in 2010 marked a turning point. Artem’s influence led Oliver to consider a life-altering decision. By 2012, Oliver, now ignited by a passion for tattoos, made a bold move to another city, all while nurturing his tattoo aspirations.
Artem’s transformation into a tattoo artist himself inspired Oliver further. As fate would have it, an opportunity arose in 2012 for them to collaborate and open their tattoo studio in Moscow. This venture required Oliver’s dedicated efforts, alongside his commitment to saving funds to fuel their creative endeavor.
Oliver’s tattooing prowess flourished within a year, prompting a return to his hometown to establish several home-like studios. Yet, he recognized that true growth beckoned him back to Moscow. Thus, in 2017, he joined Good Hands Tattoo, laying the foundation for his continued ascent.
Oliver’s indomitable spirit and devotion to his craft bore fruit, as evidenced by his stint at Black Point studio, born out of a collective dream. His trajectory exemplifies the power of dedication, leading him to become a recognized tattoo luminary within the nation.
Oliver’s journey, however, extends beyond tattooing. From his early affinity for music, highlighted by the formation of his punk rock band at 14, to his involvement in the music industry and flirtation with global recognition, his story embodies the resilience required to navigate creative industries.
A pivotal moment arrived in 2021 when Oliver, undeterred by previous setbacks, chose to channel his creative energy into designing game art. Leaving behind a stable job, he invested his savings of around $5,000 to embark on a transformative journey. Guided by Hexeth’s interview and tutorials, Oliver delved into the realm of game design.
Fueled by dedication and a newfound purpose, Oliver’s creative expression culminated in designing elements for popular games like CS:GO and RUST. Through unwavering commitment and rigorous self-education, he harnessed the potential of his artistic flair.
Today, Oliver Rouz’s name resonates as a testament to the potential of human determination. His path from a young artist with a penchant for creation to a revered tattoo and game artist serves as an inspiration to countless dreamers. Oliver’s legacy continues to evolve, as he pushes the boundaries of his craft and inspires others to chase their passions unrelentingly.
For more information and to view Oliver’s work, visit his Instagram profile: @oliverrouz.
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