Wagner boss says he needs Bakhmut in Ukraine for its ‘underground cities’ – EURACTIV.com


The founding father of Russia’s most high-profile mercenary group stated on Saturday (7 January) he needed his forces and the common Russian military to seize the small metropolis of Bakhmut in japanese Ukraine as a result of it possessed “underground cities” that may maintain troops and tanks.

Russia’s grinding greater than 5 months-long push to attempt to take Bakhmut has puzzled some Western navy analysts who’ve stated that heavy losses incurred on the Russian facet and the truth that Ukraine has constructed defensive traces to fall again to close by imply any Russian victory there, if it occurs, could be pyrrhic.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, founding father of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group which is combating within the battle of Bakhmut, set out intimately on Saturday why he thought its seize could be vital.

“The cherry on the cake is the system of Soledar and Bakhmut mines, which is definitely a community of underground cities. It not solely (has the power to carry) an enormous group of individuals at a depth of 80-100 metres, however tanks and infantry combating automobiles can even transfer about.”

Prigozhin, who would doubtless see his political capital in Moscow boosted if Bakhmut fell to Russia given Wagner’s function within the combating there, stated stockpiles of weapons had been saved within the underground complexes since World Conflict One.

His feedback had been a reference to huge salt and different mines within the space which include greater than 100 miles of tunnels and an unlimited underground room which has hosted soccer matches and classical music live shows in additional peaceable occasions.

A White Home official stated on Thursday that Washington believed Prigozhin needed to take management of salt and gypsum mines within the space for industrial causes. It made no point out of their alleged subterranean navy use.

Prigozhin, who’s sanctioned within the West, cited different benefits of taking Bakhmut, calling it “a severe logistics centre” with distinctive defensive fortifications.

He made his feedback on his press service’s Telegram channel as shellfire echoed round Bakhmut’s near-deserted streets on Saturday regardless of a self-declared Russian ceasefire to mark Orthodox Christmas, one thing Kyiv rejected as a ploy.

Bakhmut, which Russia calls Artyomovsk, is the main focus of essentially the most intense combating in Ukraine, and Prigozhin made his feedback as one other Telegram channel related to Wagner claimed Russia had captured a strategically-important settlement on Bakhmut’s outskirts.

Reuters couldn’t independently confirm the assertion.

A Ukrainian defence ministry spokesman stated the city of Soledar, which is close to Bakhmut and hosts a salt mine, was nonetheless beneath Ukrainian management regardless of what he described as fierce Russian assaults.

Russia ends ceasefire

Russia’s in a single day bombing of areas in japanese Ukraine killed not less than one, native officers stated on Sunday, after Moscow ended a self-declared Christmas ceasefire and vowed to push on with fight till it reaches a victory over its neighbour.

President Vladimir Putin ordered on Friday a 36-hour ceasefire alongside the road of contact to watch Russia and Ukraine’s Orthodox Christmas, which fell on Saturday. Ukraine had rejected the truce, and there was shelling alongside the frontline.

A 50-year-old man died within the northeastern area of Kharkiv because of Russia’s shelling, Oleh Sinehubov, the governor of the area stated on the Telegram messaging app. The information got here minutes after midnight in Moscow.

Most Ukrainian Orthodox Christians have historically celebrated Christmas on 7 January, as have Orthodox Christians in Russia. However this yr, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, the nation’s largest, allowed additionally for a 25 December celebration. Nonetheless, many noticed the vacation on Saturday, flocking into church buildings and cathedrals.

The Kremlin stated that Moscow will press forward with what it calls a “particular navy operation” in Ukraine and which Kyiv and its Western allies name an unprovoked aggression to seize land.

“The duties set by the president (Putin) for the particular navy operation will nonetheless be fulfilled,” the Russian state TASS company quoted Putin’s first deputy chief of workers, Sergei Kiriyenko, as saying.

“And there positively will probably be a victory.”

There isn’t a finish in sight to the struggle, now in its eleventh month, which has killed 1000’s, displaced thousands and thousands and turned Ukrainian cities into rubble.

Ukrainian officers additionally reported blasts in areas that make up the broader Donbas area – the struggle’s frontline the place combating has been raging for months.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of the Donetsk area in Ukraine, stated that there have been 9 missile strikes on the area in a single day, together with seven on the battered metropolis of Kramatorsk. In keeping with preliminary info, there have been no casualties.

Blasts had been additionally heard within the metropolis of Zaporizhzhia, the executive centre of the Zaporizhzhia area, a neighborhood official stated, with out giving any speedy report on injury or casualties.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated on Wednesday that Russia is planning a serious new offensive. The Pentagon stated on Friday that Putin’s intention of seizing Ukrainian territory has not modified, even when his navy continues to undergo blows.

There’s been rising considerations that Belarus – a staunch backer of Moscow – may very well be used as a staging publish to assault Ukraine from the north after growing navy exercise within the nation and contemporary switch of Russian troops there.

Unofficial Telegram channels monitoring navy exercise in Belarus reported late on Saturday that some 1,400-1,600 Russian troops arrived from Russia into the northeastern metropolis of Vitebsk in Belarus over the previous two days.

Reuters was not in a position to independently confirm the knowledge.

(Edited by Georgi Gotev)

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