Wagner Boss Claims Control of Eastern Ukraine’s Soledar Amid Ongoing Battles

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Wagner Boss Claims Control of Eastern Ukraine’s Soledar Amid Ongoing Battles

Updated: 12 hours ago

A photo published by Prigozhin’s press service Wednesday shows Prigozhin and several Wagner fighters in what is identified as a salt mine beneath Soledar.Prigozhin_hat / Telegram

The leader of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group claimed the capture of the eastern Ukrainian town of Soledar early Wednesday, with heavy fighting ongoing in the salt-mining town near the city of Bakhmut.

Ukraine denies Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin’s statement and it was impossible to independently verify either side’s claim.

If confirmed, the capture of Soledar would mark Russia’s biggest success in its war on Ukraine following months of retreats elsewhere.

“Wagner units took control of the entire territory of Soledar… No units other than Wagner PMC fighters were involved in the storming of Soledar,” Prigozhin said in an audio message published by his Concord firm.

Prigozhin said the center of Soledar, 15 kilometers from war-battered Bakhmut, was a “cauldron” of urban fighting.

He added that the number of captives would be announced later Wednesday.

A photo posted by Concord’s Telegram channel showed Prigozhin posing alongside Wagner troops inside what is identified as a salt mine in Soledar. Russian state media reported that Wagner took over Soledar’s salt mines after “fierce fighting.”

Prigozhin is an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin who has been hit with Western sanctions. His public profile has risen in recent months, openly criticizing some of the Russian military’s top brass over setbacks in Ukraine.

The U.S.-based Institute for the Study of War think tank said Tuesday that Prigozhin aims to use claims of Wagner’s successes in Soledar to boost its reputation as an effective fighting force in contrast with the Russian army. 

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