The head of Russia’s mercenary group Wagner has claimed his fighters have taken manage of the city of Soledar in eastern Ukraine, nevertheless some “urban battles” had been however having spot.
“Wagner models have taken handle of the complete territory of Soledar.” Yevgeny Prigozhin explained in an audio message posted on Telegram late on Tuesday Jan 10.
He included: “A cauldron has been shaped in the heart of the town in which urban fighting is going on. The selection of prisoners taken will be declared tomorrow.”
Soledar and the nearby metropolis of Bakhmut have seen some of the most intensive preventing in the war in modern weeks, with the two sides using hefty losses.
Prigozhin’s claim has not been independently verified and the Ukrainian military’s morning summary only mentions Soledar when in a list of locations being shelled in the Donetsk location.
The Wagner leader posted a image of himself in military services uniform surrounded by posing fighters, but did not say exactly where it was taken.
Russian state information agency RIA Novosti released another photograph of Prigozhin with armed fighters, declaring it had been taken in the salt mines of Soledar.
Ukraine earlier stated its army was holding out in Soledar, a salt mining town in the Donetsk region close to 15 kilometers (nine miles) from Bakhmut, which Russia has been hoping to seize for months.
If Wagner is in handle of Soledar, it would mark the first key Russian battlefield success for many months.
Both equally sides have stated battles for Soledar have been bloody and intense. Previously this week, President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed “the full land in Soledar is protected with corpses of the invaders,” including “everything is entirely ruined.”
And in a write-up on Telegram, Deputy Protection Minister Ganna Malyar, stated Russian troops in the most up-to-date attacks had been “literally stepping on the corpses of their own troopers employing massed artillery, MLRS programs and mortars”.
Prigozhin has claimed that he wishes to seize Soledar and the close by metropolis of Bakhmut simply because of the strategic option presented by the cavernous salt mines beneath the space which, pre-war, have been utilized to host concerts and sporting events.
“The cherry on the cake is the system of Soledar and Bakhmut mines, which is in fact a network of underground towns,” he said on Telegram on Saturday.
“It not only [has the ability to hold] a big group of men and women at a depth of 80-100 meters, but tanks and infantry preventing automobiles can also go about.”
Prigozhin also claimed the caves hold vast stockpiles of weapons from Entire world War I, but this has been disputed.
U.S. officers think he’s only inspired by the prospective economical advantage of taking regulate of the mines which would be in line with Wagner’s modus operandi in other conflicts it has participated in.
The Institute for the Analyze of War also notes that some Russian milbloggers have questioned the wisdom of losing so quite a few guys in an attritional struggle with Ukraine, saying that even taking Soledar and Bakhmut would be a strategic defeat in the context of so lots of losses.
U.S. officers mentioned last 7 days that out of a force of practically 50,000 Wagner mercenaries, over 4,100 have been killed and 10,000 wounded in Ukraine. About 1,000 of individuals killed died involving late November and early December in close proximity to Bakhmut.
Prigozhin mentioned that Soledar has been stormed “exclusively” by Wagner models.
His and Wagner’s affect in Russia has risen substantially considering that the Kremlin sent troops to Ukraine in February past year.
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