Ministry of Defense of Russia confirmed The capture of the salt-mining town of Saledar in eastern Ukraine on Friday night, about 48 hours after he first claimed responsibility as head of the Russian private military company Wagner.

The capture of Saledar is a key task for the Russian military in a larger campaign to take control of the strategic town of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region, 15 kilometers to the southwest, where fierce fighting has raged for months.

“On the evening of January 12, the liberation of Saledar was completed, which is important for the continuation of successful offensive operations in the Donetsk direction,” the military said in a daily summary.

The Ministry of Defense stated that the capture of Saledar would block the means of supplying the remaining Ukrainian troops in Bakhmut and allow them to be encircled.

The Ministry of Defense named its aviation, missile and airborne forces as the cause of the attack, as a result of which 700 Ukrainian soldiers and 300 weapons were destroyed in three days.

On Wednesday, Wagner founder and Kremlin-connected tycoon Yevgeny Prigozhin said his troops captured Saledar without the involvement of the Armed Forces.

A few hours later, the Russian military appointed General Valery Gerasimov to command Russian troops in Ukraine, replacing Prigozhin’s associate Sergei Suravikin in this position.

Ukraine’s deputy defense minister said Friday that Kiev forces continue to resist a “high-intensity” Russian offensive in Saledar.

Ukrainian forces defending Bakhmut and Saledar will be armed with everything they need to keep Russian troops at bay in some of the bloodiest battles of the war, President Vladimir Zelensky said Thursday night.

But the advisor to the President of Ukraine, Oleksiy Orestovich, said that if the Kiev troops decide to withdraw from Saledar, “it will not be an escape, but a planned decision of the command.”

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