Why does Putin’s chef so badly want a Ukrainian solidar? | News of the war between Russia and Ukraine

Kyiv, Ukraine – For analysts, if Moscow manages to seize Solidar, a small salt-mining city in Ukraine’s war-torn southeast, “victory” will probably be little greater than a comfort prize for Russia’s failed army effort.

Nonetheless, for the Kremlin and pro-Moscow separatists, capturing a metropolis that had a pre-war inhabitants of near 10,000 could be a groundbreaking victory.

And for Yevgeny Prigozhin, the top of Russia’s Wagner Group, a non-public army, Solidar gives entry to mineral riches, a stash of firearms and a better place within the Kremlin rankings.

Prigozhin is finest often called the “cook dinner” of Russian President Vladimir Putin after he turned wealthy from authorities contracts feeding troopers, faculty youngsters, and visitors at state banquets.

For months, he has been making an attempt to seize the close by metropolis of Bakhmut – an necessary logistical hub whose management will permit Russian and separatist forces to advance deep into southeastern Ukraine.

Regardless of numerous assaults and bombings and the reported losses of 1000’s of troopers, together with fighters recruited from Russian prisons, newly mobilized reservists and males forcibly conscripted from separatist-held areas of Ukraine, the Wagner Group did not take over decisively on Bakhmut.

This setback is especially humiliating after a protracted collection of Russian defeats and retreats in japanese and southern Ukraine which have highlighted what some observers see as disorganized, poorly coordinated and poorly motivated Russian forces.

So Moscow wants a victory – if not a strategic victory, then not less than one thing that may be promoted on Kremlin-controlled tv networks and reported to Putin.

There’s a propaganda level – if Bakhmut [can’t be taken]Lieutenant Basic Ihor Romanenko, former deputy chief of the Basic Employees of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, informed Al Jazeera:

Solar interactive control

Solidar’s “encirclement” was reported late Tuesday and offered as an motion solely achieved by Wagner’s military.

I wish to emphasize as soon as once more that there aren’t any different army items besides Wagner fighters [took] Prigozhin informed the Kremlin-funded RIA Novosti information company.

Subsequently, his press division revealed images allegedly taken within the salt mines below Solidar.

The Ukrainian army denied the allegations.

Spokesman Serhiy Sharifati informed Al Jazeera that the Solidar takeover was “incorrect”. They waited for an in depth report from the armed forces.

The press service of Ukraine’s Protection Ministry stated the images have been certainly taken in Volodymyrvka, a separatist-held city within the japanese area of Donetsk.

Prigozhin’s phrases in regards to the unique position of his military have been questioned by the Russian Protection Ministry, which stated on Wednesday that its paratroopers had “blocked” south and north of Solidar and have been participating within the preventing within the metropolis centre.

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The Kremlin urged warning.

“Let’s not rush. Let’s watch for the official bulletins,” stated Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov whereas describing the “optimistic dynamic in progress” at Solidar.

In the meantime, a separatist chief hailed Solidar’s “management” as a step towards full management of Donetsk, elements of which have been occupied by pro-Moscow rebels since 2014.

“This can be a groundbreaking second,” Denis Pushlin informed NTV. We’re getting ready for the second now we have been ready for to liberate the Donetsk Folks’s Republic.

For different pro-Kremlin Russians, Solidar is a devastating Ukrainian lack of manpower and a private defeat for the commander-in-chief in Kyiv, Valery Zalogny.

“Zaluzhny didn’t depend losses anyway, however right here, he outdid himself by herding 1000’s of troopers to die or take prisoner,” Herman Kulikovsky, a famous Russian army analyst, wrote on Telegram on Wednesday.

“In reality, Wagner’s forces not solely destroyed a major a part of the Ukrainian forces that attempted to carry Solidar, but in addition distracted a part of the troops and reserves and – most significantly – distracted the Ukrainian Basic Employees from different entrance strains,” he wrote.

“If there isn’t a Solidar, then there isn’t a Ukraine,” stated Zakhar Prilepin, a pro-Kremlin propagandist, on Telegram.

Town is unquestionably the important thing to capturing Bakhmut.

However what lies beneath and round it additionally offers a proof for why Prigozhin is so determined for Wagner to manage town and monopolize its management within the eyes of the Kremlin.

The salt mines below Solidar’s command include a big army trophy, and big warehouses of firearms relationship again to World Warfare II.

Salt absorbs water and prevents rust, and Moscow started loading mines with Nazi trophy weapons and a whole lot of 1000’s of Soviet small arms within the late Fifties, in line with Nikolai Mitrokhin, a historian at Germany’s College of Bremen.

That’s the reason the Ukrainian military deployed a battalion of particular forces there within the spring of 2014 and defended mines from Donetsk. [separatist] “Militias are gathering on the gates,” he informed Al Jazeera.

He stated your entire warehouse might not have been evacuated as a result of the elevator may carry not more than ten packing containers to the roof at one time.

Solidar salt might be simply as useful.

Town, whose identify means “reward of salt,” as soon as provided as much as 40 % of the desk salt within the Soviet Union.

Earlier than the conflict, it provided about 90 % of the salt all through Ukraine, and hostilities throughout town brought on costs to skyrocket.

Town’s environment are additionally wealthy in alabaster, a useful clay for ceramics and charcoal.

Prigozhin is thought to have enterprise pursuits that go far past sustaining a non-public military.

Understandably, his fighters reduce their enamel in Syria, serving to President Bashar al-Assad restore a lot of the war-torn nation.

Then Evro Polis, an organization managed by Prigozhin, signed a deal to develop Syria’s oil and gasoline fields and restore power infrastructure, in line with Russian and Western media stories.

A few of Wagner’s items moved to the war-torn Central African Republic and helped Prigozhin take management of the profitable commerce in “blood diamonds,” in line with the France-based All Eyes on Wagner analysis group.

Other than Solidar, the southeastern area of Donbass is Ukraine’s treasure trove of mineral wealth, metallurgical and chemical vegetation.

“Donbass is wealthy in uncooked supplies, and its industrial advanced can be used,” Alexei Koch, a Kyiv-based analyst, informed Al Jazeera.

“I feel probably the most useful prize is at stake — a spot in Russia’s political hierarchy,” Koch stated, referring to Prigozhin’s ambitions to realize extra affect throughout the Kremlin.

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