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Salt Of The Earth: Deep Inside Eastern Ukraine's Massive Soledar Mines

Russian forces in Ukraine are trying to capture the eastern salt-mining town of Soledar in a sustained offensive that Kyiv's Defense Ministry has described as "maniacal." On January 10, the head of the Vagner mercenary group whose soldiers are thought to be spearheading the Soledar offensive, Yevgeny Prigozhin, claimed they had taken nearly all of the town but said there was still fierce fighting in the town center. Ukraine says their troops are still battling in Soledar.

Capturing Soledar and its salt mines would have symbolic, military, and commercial value for Russia and would be Moscow's most substantial battlefield gain in months after suffering a series of setbacks. There are estimated to be 200 kilometers of disused mining tunnels criss-crossing the surrounding area.

In 2019, RFE/RL's Amos Chapple visited Soledar as the salt-mining operation was hoping to crack Western markets after Russia blocked its imports.

(Originally published on June 15, 2019.)

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Amos Chapple

Amos Chapple is a New Zealand-born photographer and picture researcher with a particular interest in the former U.S.S.R.