Ukraine: “Heavy fighting” is going on in Soledar

The Wagner Group had previously taken control of the city. Moscow and Kyiv agree to talk about the “fierce fighting” that is still going on.

Source AFP

Soledar is located north of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.

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D“Heavy fighting” between Ukrainian and Russian forces continued in Soledar on Wednesday, as the Wagner mercenary group earlier took control of the small town in eastern Ukraine, according to Kyiv and Moscow.

“Everything that happens today in the direction of Bakhmut or Soledar is the bloodiest scenario of this war,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podoliak told AFP in an interview on Wednesday. “Heavy fighting continues in Soledar,” Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Ganna Maliar said on the Telegram social network.

According to him, the Russians “tried to break through the defense of Ukraine” and “captured the city completely, but they did not succeed.” “Offensive forces are fighting in the city,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement, adding that “airborne units were blocked in the northern and southern parts of the city.” “Russian aerospace forces are striking enemy strongholds,” he added.

Soledar, once known for its salt mines, is located near the large city of Bakhmut, which Ukrainians have fiercely defended against waves of Russian forces for several months. The strategic importance of Soledar is debatable, but its capture would finally give Moscow a military victory after several humiliating setbacks since last September, as well as for Yevgeny Prigogine, the leader of the Wagner group.

The Ukrainian military rejected Wagner’s claims and said that the city of Soledar “was, is and always will be Ukrainian.” The Ukrainian military said it was “not true” that Prigozhin was in the Soledar salt mines. AFP was unable to independently verify the situation. The Russian military did not immediately comment on Wagner’s statement. Many analysts believe that there is a fierce rivalry between Wagner and the Russian military. “There is no need to rush. Let’s wait for official announcements,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the press, considering the “positive dynamics in the progress” of the Russian forces and applauding the “fantastic heroism” of the soldiers.

Its capture would allow Moscow to finally score a military victory after several humiliating setbacks since September and strengthen the growing influence of Yevgeny Prigogine, leader of the Wagner group, on the Russian political scene.

Zelensky acknowledged the “difficult situation”.

Denis Pushilin, one of the main leaders of the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, believes that the announcement of the capture of Soledar is a “turning point”. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said this week that his troops had resisted “violent attacks” in Soledar. On Tuesday evening, he reported a “difficult situation” in Donetsk region, where Soledar is based.

Yevgeny Prigozhin said that “the number of prisoners” will be announced on Wednesday. He said that the Ukrainian army resisted attacks in Soledar, located in the Donetsk region, 15 kilometers away from Bakhmut, which Russia has been trying to occupy for months. Both sides reported fierce and bloody fighting in Soledar. Wagner’s boss posted a photo of himself in military uniform, posing surrounded by Wagner Group fighters, but did not reveal where the photo was taken.

Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti reported that another photo of Yevgeny Prigozhin with armed fighters was taken at the Soledar salt mines. The leader of the paramilitary group said that Soledar was “only” raided by Wagner units. The influence of Prigozhin and his paramilitary group on Russia has grown significantly since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

READ ALSOThe war in Ukraine: these weapons that make the differenceBritain’s Ministry of Defense said on Tuesday that the Russian army and Wagner’s units had made “tactical advances” in Soledar over the past four days and were “likely trying to encircle Bakhmut from the north” and “disrupt Ukrainian lines of communication”. . According to this source, part of the fighting is to control the entrance to the old salt mine in Soledar, because its tunnels run under the front line and can be used to “infiltrate behind enemy lines”.

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