The leader of Russia’s mercenary group Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, declared on Wednesday his soldiers had taken control of Soledar, a Ukrainian city, after fierce fighting this week, and added that some “urban battles” were still on.
Ukraine’s Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar confirmed sometime before that “heavy fighting is continuing”.
“Wagner units have taken control of the whole territory of Soledar,” Prigozhin said via his press service on social media, also saying that conflict was ongoing in the center of the city.
The Russia-linked businessman said the “number of captives” will be declared on Wednesday.
Ukraine maintained that its army resisted in Soledar, a salt mining town in the Donetsk region around 15 kilometers (nine miles) from Bakhmut, the place Russia has been attempting to capture for months.
According to both the warring sides, the war for Soledar has been bloody and intense.
After the fighting was over, Prigozhin posted his own picture dressed in military uniform and surrounded by Wagner fighters, who were also posing, but did not mention the location.
Russian state news agency RIA Novosti published a different picture of Prigozhin with fighters who carried weapons, and mentioned its location as the salt mines of Soledar.
Prigozhin called the storming of Soledar “exclusive” by Wagner soldiers. His “exclusive” statement meant that the forces that “stormed” Soledar were not included in the Russian military.
Since the Kremlin dispatched soldiers to Ukraine in February of last year, he and Wagner have gained a great deal of power in that country.
Ms. Maliar had earlier stated that “the enemy does not pay attention to the significant casualties of its men and continues to vigorously storm” in the meanwhile.
“Simply put, dead enemy combatants are all over the approaches to our positions. Our warriors are valiantly defending, “Added she.
Soledar, a tiny salt mining settlement in the Donetsk region, could fall, which would enable Russian forces to encircle Bakhmut, a crucial city nearby.