Battles Rage for Salt Mines Near Ukraine's Bakhmut

Reports Russian forces had encircled Ukrainian forces and were in complete control of Soledar, a town near Bakhmut in Ukraine’s Donetsk Oblast, were quickly rejected as “disinformation” by a journalist embedded with Ukrainian troops.

A statement released by Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of PMC Wagner, a private mercenary company with close ties to the Kremlin, said Wagner fighters had encircled Ukrainian forces and were engaged in battles in the middle of the town.

Prigozhin’s claim came a day after the UK’s defense ministry warned that the town was close to falling under Russian control after they made tactical advances over the last four days.

Ukrainian journalist Yuriy Butusov, who had been embedded with Ukrainian troops in the area, dismissed the claim and said Ukraine’s forces had not been encircled.

Earlier on Tuesday, Hanna Maliar, Ukraine’s deputy defense minister, said the Russian military was repeatedly storming positions despite taking heavy losses.

“The approaches to our positions are simply littered with the bodies of dead enemy fighters,” Maliar said, according to a Google translation of her statement.

On Monday, Serhiy Cherevaty, spokesman for the Eastern Group of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said Wagner had deployed its most capable fighters to the area and that Ukrainian forces were trying to deplete their numbers to limit the impact of their advances, according to Ukrainian media reports.

This drone footage, captured over a mine in the center of Soledar, was released on Sunday, January 8, by Ukraine’s State Border Service (SBS). The SBS said the video was shot “the other day” by a drone operated by border guards who were helping Ukrainian tank operator’s direct their fire at Russian forces sheltering at the mine.

Before the Russian invasion, 90-percent of salt in Ukraine was mined in Soledar by the state enterprise “Artemsil”, but due to the conflict, work at the mines was halted in April, according to the Donetsk regional government.. Credit: State Border Service of Ukraine via Storyful

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