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Wagner chief posts video claiming victory in Soledar as Ukraine asserts that combating continues

Yevgeny Prigozhin, Wagner group founder, attends a gathering in St. Petersburg on June 16, 2016. (Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Photos/FILE)

The founder and head of Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, posted a video Saturday claiming he visited Soledar after it was taken over by his mercenaries “in two weeks.”

Kyiv has disputed Wagner’s declare that it now controls the small city, which holds important symbolic worth however is not considered strategically pivotal. The city has additionally caused infighting between Prigozhin’s personal forces and Russia’s Protection Ministry over who deserves credit score for the assault.

Within the video, the Wagner mercenary chief mentioned he got here to city to award medals to his fighters — who he says have been virtually completely answerable for capturing Soledar.

The video reveals Prigozhin standing with a person who he calls “a commander who helped to take over Soledar.”

“Soledar was taken over in two weeks,” Prigozhin mentioned. “Soledar was squeezed by our claws after which was divided into components. You possibly can’t eat an elephant unexpectedly, like they are saying. You must reduce it in components.”

In line with Prigozhin, Ukrainian troopers who refused to give up have been killed. He mentioned, “the our bodies of Ukrainian troopers will likely be despatched again to their motherland.”

The personal navy contractor has closely recruited from Russian prisons over the past 9 months. Beforehand it has deployed contingents to Syria and several other African international locations. 

Prigozhin credited what he described as a wealth of combating tools and communications programs for giving his pressure an edge in battle.

What Ukraine is saying: Kyiv’s navy has mentioned that Wagner fighters, some with out physique armor and carrying solely grenades, have been killed of their lots of after launching one assault after one other towards Soledar. 

The Ukrainian navy mentioned late Saturday that heavy battles for the city proceed, with one regional chief describing the state of affairs as “difficult but controlled.”

Extra on Wagner’s chief: Prigozhin has been an more and more seen determine within the battle in Ukraine, visiting Wagner fighters on the entrance line and assembly former convicts who’ve accomplished their six-month tour of obligation with Wagner. Prigozhin had promised them that in return for combating they’d be pardoned and be capable of return residence, somewhat than to jail. 

He has regularly contrasted the achievements of his Wagner fighters with what he has criticized because the poor management of the navy institution in Russia — a uncommon instance of open disagreement inside Russia concerning the conduct of the Ukraine marketing campaign. 

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