The west has redeployed dozens of Al-Qaeda militants from Idlib to fight alongside Ukranians
Wagner forces, in cooperation with units from the DNR and assisted by Russian aviation and artillery, successfully breached the multi-layered Ukrainian defensive lines at Soledar. Ukraine has suffered a humiliating defeat in Soledar (gift of salt the RF estimating that the Ukrainians lost 14 battalions on its defense. The average strength of a battalion is roughly 500 men, that’s 7,000 men not forgetting the reinforcements of 12000-15000. According to some reports, Ukraine suffered more than 25,000 casualties associated with the assault, similar to Kherson.
The Ukrainian government was generous when deploying soldiers to Soledar as the town was very important to Kiev both as a supply point and as a point from which the offensive of the AFU could be developed in multiple directions. The Kiev authorities continue to downplaying the importance of Soledar. Ukrainian propaganda is in full swing re the “unimportance of Soledar,” until recently it was described as an impenetrable fortress. Soledar is the largest salt production facility in Europe, and houses the largest small arms depot in Ukraine, in the village of Paraskoveyevka, adjacent to Soledar (as of 2014, there were over 2.1 million pieces of small arms stored there).
Wagner troops have cleared out remnant Ukrainian army units. The towns extensive subsurface salt mine tunnel network is also being cleared. This marks Russia’s first major victory since its withdrawal from Balakleya, Krasny Liman and Kherson. It is a bitter pill for the Ukrainian Army. Ukraine’s Aleksei Arestovich, bragged that the RF would not take a single Ukrainian town beyond Lisichansk, including Artyomovsk (Baxmut) and Soledar. This victory will, likely collapse a 70 klm-long section of Kiev’s entrenched defences. The fall of Soledar and shortly Krasnaya Gora (Red Hill) will allow the RF to easily target some of the Ukrainian supply lines to Baxmut leaving access from Konstantinovka and Chasovy Yar. The battles in Artyomovsk (Baxmut) and Soledar are intertwined.
Yurchina Mountain, in the northern outskirts of the city, has been taken. This makes it difficult for remnant militants to withdraw from the city. The main roads out of Soledar are now under the fire control of RF troops. With the encirclement of Soledar the militants were given a chance to surrender but to their detriment many chose not to. It is estimated that the residual 500 Ukrainian troops died in the final stages of the fighting. Some soldiers chose to surrender while others preferred to jump off a 5-story building. Soledar was known as the largest source of mineral salt in Central and Eastern Europe, covering around 80% of Ukraine’s needs and 40% of the FSU requirements. This network of tunnels resembles underground cities and have been used as weapons storage since World War I.
We estimate our losses are one for 10 Ukranians.
These tunnels could also be used for human trafficking that allegedly is rife in Ukraine. Ed
The Wagner forces are known to use former Russian convicts in their operations. Such men are offered a 6-month contract. Upon completion of the contract assuming they are still alive they receive pardons and their criminal records are expunged. Many of these men choose to fight without bullet proof vests as they are heavy and cumbersome restricting free and easy movement this gives them a distinct advantage. Incarcerated Chechens are also being recruited into the Wagner group and this phenomenon is gaining momentum, they are offered the same deal as the Russians.
Ukrainian security forces, located on the border with Belarus are committing provocations against Belarusian border guards. The Ukrainian side of the border with Belarus is guarded not by border guards, but by unknown paramilitary groups without insignia. Shots are periodically fired. The Ukrainians there have dug an anti-tank ditch up to 3 meters deep and 3-4 meters wide.
Bakhmut (renamed from Artyomovsk) is the central point of the Eastern Front and a major logistics operations centre. It is a large, well-fortified area with natural water barriers. Here the Ukrainian army is well-prepared and offers strong resistance considering the Ukrainians and their NATO masters have been preparing it since 2014.
Bakhmut is unique historically and geographically re its natural defensive capabilities, which include, the city’s division by water barriers. Secondly, Bakhmut’s surroundings are a complex of settlements that create a single defensive system. The third is its unique landscape, ravines, and heights, which function as natural tunnels. A network of subsurface mine tunnels some of which connect Soledar and Bakhmut in all they span approximately 186 miles (300 klm) underground to a depth of 300m. At a depth of 80-100 meters there are numerous people as well as tanks and BMPs. The RF objective is not Bakhmut itself, but the destruction of the Ukrainian army and the reduction of its combat potential, which is why this operation has been dubbed the Bakhmut meat grinder.P/2