The owner of the Russian Wagner mercenary company, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has announced he allegedly visited salt mines in the town of Soledar, Donetsk Oblast.
However, Ukraine’s Centre for Strategic Communications or StratCom denied the Russian warlord’s claim, stating the photo had not been taken not in the salt mines in Soledar.
“(This is) an element of an informational and psychological special operation from Prigozhin’s public relations specialists, which is aimed at an internal audience to somehow justify the insane losses among the convicts,” the agency said on the Telegram messenger on Jan. 11.
Earlier Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Serhiy Cherevaty denied reports spread by Russian invasion forces that they now control the town of Soledar, to the north-east of the key Ukrainian-held town of Bakhmut in Donetsk Oblast.
The U.S.-based Institute for the Study of War has also reported that invading Russian forces have not captured the entirety of the town of Soledar, despite several false Russian claims that the town has fallen and that the town of Bakhmut is at imminent risk of encirclement.
Bakhmut and Soledar remain the hottest spots on the front line at this time.
Russian invading forces claimed they had complete control of Soledar on Jan. 8. The Ukrainian military denied that the Russians had managed to capture the entire town. On the same day, Deputy Minister of Defense Hanna Malyar said that while “it was really hard” in the town, Ukrainian troops had nevertheless managed to make small gains on some parts of the front line there.
The commander of Ukraine’s Ground Forces, Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, recently visited the frontline positions of Ukrainian troops in Soledar and Bakhmut, Donetsk Oblast, and discussed the situation with their commanders.
Soledar is located about 13 kilometers to the north-east of Bakhmut. It is another town in the east of Ukraine almost completely destroyed by the occupying forces during their numerous attempts to seize it over the past several months.
The population of the town before the full-scale invasion was 11,000 citizens, most of whom have fled. Regular artillery shelling from the very start of the invasion has left Soledar largely deserted.
Artemsil — the largest salt factory in Europe — is located in the town, but it has not been operating since April 2022.