The United Kingdom claims Russia now has the majority of control over the town of Soledar, which had previously been bombarded with salt mines.

According to the UK Ministry of Defense, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky declared that “almost no life” remains in Soledar after a drawn-out fight between Ukrainian and Russian forces. 

“This is what madness looks like,” he added.

It is believed that the Russian Wagner Group and their founder Yevgeny Prigozhin are aiming to acquire control of the mines in the region, which are abundant in salt and gypsum. The US Department of Defense stated that a “good portion” of Soledar is now in Russian possession. The battle for Bakhmut has been ongoing for months, with the US official characterizing the recent skirmishes as “savage.”

Two British nationals, Andrew Bagshaw and Christopher Parry have gone missing in the region after they were last seen traveling to Soledar. Ukrainian military personnel was able to ward off attacks on thirteen towns, including Soledar and Bakhmut, on Monday. 

Despite the lengthy and intense battle, Oleh Zhdanov, a well-known Ukrainian military analyst, believes that neither Soledar nor Bakhmut are especially significant in the operational sense. Instead, he said that Russia is simply “trying to prove to the whole world that its army is capable of winning.”

The Institute for the Study of War in the US has said that Prigozhin will use the success of the Wagner Group in Soledar and Bakhmut to promote them as the only Russian force in Ukraine capable of gaining substantial ground.