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Prigozhin claims full control of Soledar. Ukrainian officials disagree.
Overnight, RIA Novosti published a photo on Telegram which purports to show Wagner PMC founder Evgeny Prigozhin in the salt mines beneath Soledar.
Furthermore, Prigozhin’s press service published the following message on Telegram at around 11 pm Kyiv time (GMT+2): “Wagner PMC units have taken control of the entire territory of Soledar. A cauldron has been formed in the center of the city, in which urban fighting is taking place. The number of prisoners will be announced tomorrow. Once again I would like to emphasize that no units other than Wagner PMC fighters were involved in the storming of Soledar.”
However, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) assessed in its January 10 report that Russian forces had not captured the entirety of Soledar. “The reality of block-by-block control of terrain in Soledar is obfuscated by the dynamic nature of urban combat, however, and Russian forces have largely struggled to make significant tactical gains in the Soledar area for months. Even taking the most generous Russian claims at face value, the capture of Soledar would not portend an immediate encirclement of Bakhmut,” they wrote.
On Wednesday morning, Serhiy Cherevatyi, spokesman for Ukraine’s eastern grouping, said that the allegations were not true and recommended that journalists wait for details from the General Staff. The agency’s morning briefing mentioned Soledar only among the settlements in the area where Russian army shelling continues.
AFU StratCom stated the following: “It seems that the location of Prigozhin does not correspond with reality and he is not in the Soledar mines. It’s an IPSO (information-psychological operation) from Prigozhin’s PR people, which is aimed at the internal audience in order to somehow justify the rabid losses among the cons.”
They published three photos on social media. The first shows the salt mines of Soledar, the second shows caves near the village of Volodymyrivka, which is controlled by the self-proclaimed DNR. The third picture is a photograph published by Prigozhin’s press service overnight, along with a report about the capture of Soledar. RIA Novosti claimed that the picture showed the salt mines of Soledar. The AFU believe that these are the caves near Volodymyrivka.
The Russian Defense Ministry claimed on the afternoon of January 11, that Russian troops had blockaded Soledar from the north and south. “The Russian Air Force is striking enemy strongholds. Assault units are fighting in the city,” ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said at a briefing on January 11. “As a result of the shelling of units of the 61st mechanized and 17th armored brigades of the AFU, up to 80 Ukrainian servicemen, one tank, three armored fighting vehicles and two vehicles were destroyed.”
The Defense Ministry also claimed to have captured the village of Podgorodne, which is located in the suburbs of Bakhmut, southwest of Soledar.
In wartime, new military information cannot always be promptly verified, even when presented by official sources. Please consider it critically.
Earlier, a soldier of the 46th AFU airmobile brigade defending Soledar spoke to CNN and described the situation in the city as "critical," adding that there were so many dead that no one could count them anymore.
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