Russia-Ukraine War: In the shadow of continued fighting near the town of Solder, the Russian Ministry of Defense claimed that the army had defeated the Ukrainian forces and that the “brave paratroopers” had liberated the town. However, the Telegraph newspaper reported this morning (Saturday) on the “humiliating” turn of the Kremlin, when it issued a new news and the Ministry of Defense stated that the “Wagner” mercenary group was the one that captured the city.

The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed last night that the army captured the town of Solder, after the withdrawal of the Ukrainian forces. After the official announcement, one of the owners of the “Wagner” group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, quickly contradicted her and said that “no Russian paratroopers were involved in the occupation of the city.” The revised message issued by the Russian Ministry of Defense states that “the mission in the town was successfully implemented by courageous actions of the Wagner Group operatives.”

The “Wagner” group (Photo: REUTERS/Igor Russak)

Meanwhile, in a speech given tonight by the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, claimed that “the battle is not over yet and our forces continue to fight the Russian forces in Solder and other cities in eastern Ukraine.” The spokesman for the military command in eastern Ukraine also said that “Solder was not occupied by Russia, our units are in the field and it is not under Russian control.”

The public debate between the Russian army and the “Wagner” group threatened to undermine Russia’s first significant victory since it announced the occupation of Luhansk region last July. It also highlights the power and influence of the mercenary group, which is backed by the Kremlin but operates completely separately from the Russian military. Earlier this year, the Kremlin approved the recruitment of prisoners to bolster Wagner’s power, but the group’s operatives appear to be acting solely on Prigozhin’s orders.

Photos of the destruction from the Ukrainian town of Solder (Photo: Maxar Technologies./Handout via REUTERS)

Photos of the destruction from the Ukrainian town of Solder (Photo: Maxar Technologies./Handout via REUTERS)

Public clashes between Prigozhin and Putin have intensified in recent months, with the former regularly accusing the Russian military of incompetence and promoting his military militia as an alternative army. The Russian army, for its part, looks down on Wagner’s force, and as a group of former prisoners who cannot be trusted. Earlier, Prigozhin stated that his fighters “cleared the town of Soldar from Ukrainian soldiers, but there are reports that some of them escaped to the salt mines located nearby.”

As mentioned, Ukraine stated last night that its forces are fighting fierce battles in and near the town, and rejected the report that the Russian mercenary group “Wagner” had taken over the town. Ukraine’s deputy defense minister emphasized that “Russia is sending its people to slaughter thousands, but our forces are holding out.”

Photos of the destruction from the Ukrainian town of Solder (Photo: Maxar Technologies./Handout via REUTERS)

Photos of the destruction from the Ukrainian town of Solder (Photo: Maxar Technologies./Handout via REUTERS)

Photos of the destruction from the Ukrainian town of Solder (Photo: Maxar Technologies./Handout via REUTERS)

Photos of the destruction from the Ukrainian town of Solder (Photo: Maxar Technologies./Handout via REUTERS)

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov was interviewed by the British BBC network and stated that his country is a de facto NATO member. According to him, “Ukraine as a country and its army have become members of NATO, this is facto and not de jure, because we have weapons and the understanding of how to use them. Western countries who once feared that the military aid might be seen as an escalation on the part of Russia, are changing their way of thinking.” He also said that he is sure that Ukraine will continue to receive arms shipments, which will also include tanks and fighter jets in the future.

Reznikov also referred to the continuation of the fighting in Solder, saying that “the situation is very difficult, but under control.” According to him, “Warriors in the Wagner group continue to attack the town in waves and have led to a high number of deaths. Prigozhin was interested in the possible economic benefits of conquering the town, such as the largest salt mines in Europe. They will make money from blood.”

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