The Solidar Salt Mines are a complex tunnel system that stretches 200 kilometers beneath contested territory.
Sven ZieglerRedaktor news
Bachmut and Soledar: For weeks now, the Ukrainian cities, which together have about 85,000 inhabitants, have been suddenly at the center of hostilities. With heavy losses, Russian troops attempt to capture both cities.
In Soledar, a small town near Bachmut Russian mercenaries Wagner’s fighters must now achieve victory. Even Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (44) had to admit that his troops were finding it difficult to hold the city. Conflicting claims emerge from the heart of the conflict: Russia says it has already captured the city, but Ukraine denies it.
Only: What does Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigoshin (61), considered a close confidant of President Vladimir Putin (70), really want in a town of 10,000?
A city of strategic importance
U.S. According to experts at the think tank Institute for the Study of War (ISW), if Wagner’s troops do indeed capture the city, they will have several aces up their sleeve.
When visiting: This video should show Prigozhin in Soledar’s salt mine(00:27)
On the one hand, Soledar is on an important link road to the nearby town of Slowjansk. So far, the Ukrainian army has used them to supply troops on the Eastern Front. If the Russians actually manage to capture Soledor, they will also control the access road – and cut off some of the Ukrainian troops’ supplies.
In addition, Wagner’s troops in Solatar had access to a gigantic tunnel system under the area. Wagner boss Prigoshin has made no secret that he wants to take over the tunnels completely. It was a “network of underground cities” that could be used to store weapons and as a retreat for troops, he wrote in a telegram. A win is “icing on the cake,” Brigossin says.
In fact, salt and gypsum mines spread over 200 kilometers across the area surrounding the two contested cities. The capture would allow the Russians to torpedo Ukrainian positions from below and advance further towards Pakmut. As the tunnels run at a depth of more than 100 meters, they are well protected from attacks from above.
Total success is not an issue
According to ISW, coal can be made from salt from the Prigozhin mines. So the Wagner boss can mine salt and gypsum and try to make money out of it. In this way, the Kremlin’s war chest could be further replenished.
However, in the eyes of Western experts, Russia is still far from fully conquering the Donbass. British military experts say Russia is unlikely to see a sustained advance in the coming weeks. Ukrainian defense lines are still “very stable,” the British Secret Service wrote in its situation report on Tuesday.
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