Andriy Yermak, who heads the office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, made the comparison in an interview with France’s Le Monde newspaper, The Odessa Journal website reported.
The 1916 Battle of Verdun was a bloody, months-long clash between the French and German armies. The most prolonged battle of World War I, it led to hundreds of thousands of casualties, according to The Odessa Journal.
Yermak told Le Monde: “The situation is difficult, even very difficult. This is the Battle of Verdun in the 21st century. The fighting has been going on for several months, but our fighters manage to hold their positions,” as quoted by Britain’s The Guardian newspaper.
He added: “The Russians release criminals from prisons who die as soon as they reach the frontline. Their bodies are left in place. They are not even removed. There are many human losses on the Russian side, much more than ours. We clearly value the lives of our soldiers more.”
Russians 'do not control' Soledar
Yermak warned: “But before us is a human mass that is constantly attacking, attacking, attacking. Soledar is a place of street battles, wherever one of the parties does not control the city,” as reported by The Guardian.
He also said, as quoted by The Odessa Journal: “The Russians are there, but they do not control the city. The situation is complicated, but our goal is to liberate our territories, fully restore the territorial integrity of Ukraine."
'Infighting, corruption, bureaucracy'
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the owner of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, has issued a statement in which he apparently criticises the Russian establishment for “infighting, corruption, bureaucracy” and complains about “officials who want to stay in their positions,” The Guardian reported.
"They constantly try to steal victory from the Wagner PMC (private military company) and talk about the presence of other unknown people just to belittle Wagner's merits," Prigozhin said, in reference to the fighting in Soledar, as cited by the Reuters news agency.
Prigozhin, a harsh critic of the shortcomings of Russia’s regular army, earlier this week claimed that Soledar had fallen, thanks exclusively to the efforts of the Wagner group, news outlets reported.
Ukrainian officials denied that Soledar had been captured by Russia, saying that Ukrainian troops were holding out.
On Friday evening, Russia’s defence ministry responded to Prigozhin’s statement in a bid to “clarify” the situation, noting the role of Wagner forces in the battle for Soledar, according to The Guardian.
The defence ministry in Moscow said: “As for the direct storming of Soledar’s city quarters occupied by the armed forces of Ukraine, this combat task was successfully accomplished by the courageous and selfless actions of volunteers from the Wagner assault detachments.”
Ukrainian officials denied this Russian claim as well, claiming they were still holding on to Soledar and counterattacking, The Guardian reported.
Friday was day 324 of Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Source: The Odessa Journal, The Guardian, Reuters