Wagner founder: Moscow wants Bakhmut because it has a huge underground network of tunnels

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The founder of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group said today that he would like his men and the regular Russian army to seize the eastern Ukrainian town of Bakhmut because it has “underground cities” where soldiers and tanks can be hidden.

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The five-month pounding of the city of Bakhmut by Russian forces has troubled Western military analysts who say heavy losses on the Russian side and the fact that the Ukrainians have built defensive lines to retreat there mean that any Russian victory – if there is – it will be pyrrhic.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of Wagner, whose men are taking part in the Battle of Bakhmut, detailed today why he believes capturing the city would be important.

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“The icing on the cake is the Solentar and Bahmut mine system, which is actually a network of underground cities. Not only is it (capable of accommodating) a large group of people at a depth of 80-100 meters, but tanks and infantry fighting vehicles can be moved there,” he said. He added that stockpiles of weapons had been stored in these underground complexes since World War II.

Prigozhin was referring to a large salt mine and other mines in the area which have more than 100 kilometers of tunnels and a huge underground hall which in the past, in peacetime, even hosted football matches and classical music concerts.

A White House official said Thursday that Washington believed Prigozhin wanted to control the region’s mines for commercial purposes. However, he did not mention their possible military use.

Prigozhin, who has been sanctioned by the West, cited other advantages of taking Bakhmut, which he called a “serious logistics center” with unique defensive fortifications.

These comments were made on Telegram, while gunfire rang out in the almost deserted streets of Bahamut, earlier today, despite Russia’s unilateral Christmas truce. Another Telegram account linked to Wagner said Russia captured a strategically important settlement on the outskirts of Bakhmut, which Moscow calls Artyomovsk.

Source: News Beast

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