(Reuters) - Ukraine's eastern salt mining town of Soledar hung in the balance as Russia's mercenary firm Wagner claimed control, but continued fighting and Kyiv's assertion earlier that its forces were holding out raised uncertainty.
* Soledar has symbolic, military and commercial value for Russia and if its forces capture the town and its huge salt mines, it would be Moscow's most substantial gain since a series of retreats throughout much of the second half of 2022.
* Ukraine's armed forces said Russian forces trained tank, mortar and artillery fire on Avdiivka, a second focus of the Russian military south of Bakhmut and not far from the city of Donetsk, held by Russian proxies since 2014.
* Russian forces shelled 13 settlements in and around Kharkiv region, largely returned to Ukrainian hands in September and October, the Ukrainian military said.
* Reuters could not verify the battlefield reports.
* Russia has appointed Colonel-General Alexander Lapin as chief of staff of the country's ground forces, state-owned news agency TASS reported, despite criticism from hawks over his performance in Ukraine.
* One of Russian President Putin's closest allies said Moscow was now effectively fighting the U.S.-led NATO military alliance in Ukraine and that the West was trying to wipe Russia from the political map of the world.
* German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock made a surprise visit to Kharkiv and promised more weapons as well as "concrete offers" to help Ukraine's accession to the European Union.
* Ukrainian troops are expected to begin training on the Patriot missile defence system at a military base in the United States in coming weeks, a U.S. official said.
* Canada will buy a U.S.-made National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) for Ukraine, a statement from Prime Minister Trudeau's office said.
* The Kremlin said new Western deliveries of armoured vehicles to Ukraine would deepen suffering.
"The free world has everything necessary to stop Russian aggression and bring about a historic defeat for the terrorist state" - Ukrainian President Zelenskiy.
(Compiled by Grant McCool)