Russian Paramilitary ‘Wagner Group’ Allegedly Seized Ukrainian Salt Mines as Experts Predict Escalation of War – zoohousenews.com
(Natural News) Russian forces in Ukraine have suffered a string of defeats in recent weeks, but the Wagner Group, a well-known paramilitary force operating under Moscow’s permission, claims a key target in the Ukrainian town of Soledar to the east having conquered Donetsk region.
The head of the organization, Yevgeny Prigozhin, reportedly admitted in comments on social media Tuesday and Wednesday that fighting continues in the region. But, he claimed, “units of Wagner’s private military company have seized control of the entire Soledar area,” and Ukrainian forces are now surrounded.
“The city center has been surrounded and urban fighting is underway. The number of prisoners will be announced tomorrow,” Prigozhin noted. “No units other than Wagner PMC fighters were involved in the storming of Soledar.”
The Amsterdam-based Moscow Times and Agence France Presse stressed that “if confirmed, the capture of Soledar would be Russia’s greatest achievement in its war against Ukraine after months of retreats elsewhere.”
However, Prigozhin’s emphasis that it was “only Wagner” troops that conquered the region and no regular troops achieved success in Soledar has caused dismay and anger in the Russian military chain of command.
The British Ministry of Defense (MoD) acknowledged in its daily briefing that most of the city, or what is left of it, is under Russian control.
(1 of 5)
For the past four days, Russian and Wagner troops have been making tactical advances into the small Donbass town of Soledar and are believed to be controlling most of the settlement.
– Department of Defense ?? (@DefenseHQ) January 10, 2023
“Over the past four days, Russian and Wagner troops have made tactical advances in the small Donbas town of Soledar and are likely in control of most of the settlement,” the Defense Ministry said in a Twitter thread. “Soledar is 10 km north of Bakhmut, the capture of which is likely to remain Russia’s most important immediate operational objective.
“Russia’s Soledar Axis is most likely an attempt to encircle Bakhmut from the north and cut off Ukrainian communications,” the defense ministry said. “Some of the fighting has focused on the approaches to the 200 km long disused salt mines that run beneath the district. Both sides are likely concerned that they could be used to infiltrate behind their lines.
“Despite increased pressure on Bakhmut, Russia is unlikely to take the city immediately as Ukrainian forces maintain stable defense lines in depth and control over supply routes,” the thread concluded.
Reuters further noted:
Soledar is also home to cave-like salt mines owned by the state-owned Artemsil company, which completely dominated the Ukrainian market until it ceased production a few months after Russia invaded. Since its foundation in the late 19th century, the company has produced more than 280 million tons of salt. The mines go to depths of 200-300 meters and have tunnels totaling 300 km (186 miles), according to a local tourist website.
The company was once considered one of the largest in Eastern Europe and exported salt to 20 countries. A hot air balloon was once flown into one of the mines to demonstrate its depth.
Russia continues to struggle to pacify even a small part of Ukraine, but a leadership change made by President Vladimir Putin this week may indicate he is preparing for an escalation in the conflict.
According to Business Insider, “Russia’s Defense Ministry announced on Wednesday that General Valery Gerasimov, the longtime Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, has been appointed general war chief in Ukraine, following his high-profile predecessor who was supposed to turn the tide, only lasted three months.”
It could be argued that Gerasimov’s appointment wasn’t the wisest either, considering how long he’s been in charge of all of Russia’s armed forces and how poorly they’ve done in Ukraine. We will see.