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Ukraine: Wagner group claims control of Soledar, Kyiv denies

On Wednesday, the Russian mercenary group Wagner claimed control of the town of Soledar, the scene of heavy fighting in eastern Ukraine in recent days, a claim immediately disputed by Kyiv. Once known for its salt mines, Soledar is near a more important city. The strategic importance of Bakhmout.Soledar, which the Ukrainians have fiercely defended against waves of Russian forces for several months, is debatable, but its capture would allow Moscow to finally score a military victory after several humiliating setbacks since last September, and Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner Group, has seen his growing influence on Russia’s political scene. to strengthen. In the morning, Mr. Prigogine via social media news service. However, he added, “urban fighting” continues in pockets of resistance. The Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported that the photo of Prigozhin with armed fighters was taken in the Soledar salt mines. The Ukrainian army denied these claims. The city of Soledar “was, is and always will be Ukraine”. The Ukrainian military said that it was “not true” that Mr. Prigozhin was in the Soledar salt mines. Agence France-Presse could not independently verify the situation on the ground. Prigozhin said that Ukraine’s “prisoner count” will be announced on Wednesday. – “Exclusively” Wagner – The Russian military did not immediately comment on this statement by Wagner, whose influence has waned significantly since the beginning of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. February 2022. Many analysts believe that there is a fierce rivalry between Wagner and the Russian military. Prigozhin claimed that Soledar was raided “only” by Wagner units without the help of the army. Denis Pushilin, one of the main leaders of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, believes that the announcement of their capture marked Soledar as a “turning point”. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said this week that his troops had resisted “violent attacks” in Soledar. On Tuesday evening, he reported on the “difficult situation” in the Donetsk region, where Soledar is based. “Tactical advances in Soledar in the last four days” and was “most likely trying to encircle Bakhmout from the north” and “disrupt Ukrainian lines of communication”. The old salt mine at Soledar, as its tunnels pass under the front line and could be used to “get behind enemy lines”. The unexpected visit of Annalena Baerbock, the head of German diplomacy, to this city in the north-east of Ukraine. He invited. Ukrainian colleague Dmitry Kouleba, who accompanied her in Kharkiv, assured Ms. Baerbock that Ukraine will count on Germany’s “solidarity” and “support”. Starlink Internet. He also announced the supply of new generators for Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, which has been systematically bombed by Russia. Mr. Kouleba, in turn, called on Germany to supply Ukraine with heavy armor. “The longer such a decision is delayed, the more people will be lost, the more deaths will occur among civilians. Zelensky, in turn, announced on Tuesday evening that he revoked the Ukrainian citizenship of Viktor Medvedchuk, a close friend of Vladimir Putin, a rich businessman, who was accused by Kyiv of treason in favor of Russia. Born in Siberia and considered in Ukraine to be a man of the Russian president, he was handed over to Russia during a prisoner exchange between Kyiv and Moscow at the end of September 2022 after spending more than five months in prison in Ukraine. bur/mba

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