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Wagner group filmed in salt-mine tunnels of embattled Soledar in Donbass

Earlier, the private military company claimed it has the town under its control

RT has obtained exclusive footage shot in a salt mine located on the outskirts of the Donbass town of Soledar, which has recently seen intense fighting between Russian and Ukrainian troops. It shows businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin and members of his private military company, the Wagner Group, touring the decades-old facility.

One of the soldiers remarked that, as the group was walking for two kilometers, the Ukrainian troops were “above our heads,” adding that this was “temporary.”

The mines which gave the Donbass town its name (Soledar means “salt giver” in English) comprise a giant system of cavernous tunnels. They have an estimated combined length of some 300km and go hundreds of meters underground.

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The production of salt started over a century ago and reached a massive scale in Soviet times. Some of the depleted tunnels were repurposed for tourism and therapy, while others were reportedly used to store a massive stockpile of weapons that the Red Army used during World War II.

According to the video, Ukrainian troops were also using the mines as an improvised ammo depot. The touring group can be seen passing by a stash of military crates. One of the soldiers remarked that they were empty, but some similar stockpiles discovered by the unit contained weapons.

Prigozhin, a controversial Russian entrepreneur sanctioned by many Western nations, claimed on Tuesday evening that the Wagner Group had seized full control of Soledar, with only a pocket of Ukrainian resistance remaining inside the city.

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File photo: A Wagner Group fighter on the battlefield in Donbass
Wagner group claims full control of Soledar

“There is a cauldron in the center of town, where urban fighting is taking place,” he said in a statement released by his company. “We’ll announce the number of prisoners tomorrow.”

On Sunday, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky described the situation in Soledar as “very difficult” for his troops, but vowed that they would continue to hold “no matter what.”

Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian president Pyotr Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”

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Moscow demands that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.

January 11, 2023 at 04:42PM
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