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"Putin's chef": The Wagner group has taken control of all of Soledar

"Putin's chef": The Wagner group has taken control of all of Soledar
The Wagner Group's leader, Jevgenij Prigozjin, says that only units from Wagner have participated in the attack on Soledar. AP Photo

By inyheter.no - Olav Kvilhaug, Journalist - January 11, 2023

In a statement from the Wagner boss, he claims that they have taken control of the entire Ukrainian town of Soledar in Donetsk.

The Wagner group is a privately owned military organization with mercenaries based in southwestern Russia, near the Crimean peninsula, under its leader Yevgeny Prigozhin - often called "Putin's chef".

The military organization is believed to consist of around 5,000 mercenaries. The group has previously participated in conflicts in countries such as Syria, Libya, Mali, the Central African Republic, Sudan, and Mozambique.

- Units from the Wagner group have taken control of all of Soledar, reports Prigozhin's press service on Telegram at 10 p.m. Norwegian time.

Separatist leader Denis Pushilin in Russian-occupied Donetsk also claims, according to Tass, that Russian forces have taken control of the city.

- The number of prisoners will be announced tomorrow, writes Prigozhin in the statement, and continues:

- I would like to emphasize once again that only units from Wagner have taken part in the attack on Soledar, writes Prigozjin.

For a long time, Yevgeny Prigozhin has harshly criticized Russia's armed forces for their efforts in the war.

The British Ministry of Defense said on Tuesday that Russia had probably captured most of the city after four days of military advances.

Ukraine's deputy defense minister stated earlier on Tuesday that Ukrainian forces are still in the city.

- Hard battles to keep Soledar continue. The enemy ignores the fact that they have lost many soldiers and continues to actively storm, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said in a statement.

Both Soledar and Bakhmut are strategically important for controlling the entire Donbas region, and it has been here that the most intensive fighting of the war has taken place in recent weeks.

- It is extremely difficult - there are almost no whole walls left, stated President Volodymyr Zelenskyj in a video on Tuesday night about the city of Bakhmut, according to  The Guardian.

Zelenskyj's video speech on the night of Wednesday:

- Today is a new phase of our diplomatic marathon. I told the leaders of the European states about the situation on the battlefield: the difficult situation in the Donetsk region, constant Russian attacks, the fact that Russia does not count its people, does not spare the local population, and does not stop before any criminal acts.

- This can only be countered by a new level of modern military equipment that Ukraine can get from partners. I thank all leaders who help us to understand that now is the time for new powerful decisions. The free world has what it takes to stop Russian aggression and bring the terrorist state to a historic defeat. It is important for global democracy, and for everyone who values ​​freedom.

- I thank everyone who helps us defend Ukraine and freedom, fight for independence and work to strengthen Ukraine! Today, I would like to pay special tribute to the warriors of the 46th Separate Air Scooter Brigade for their bravery and steadfastness in the defense of Soledar! Thank you, warriors!

      Olav Kvilhaug, Journalist - January 11, 2023

Wagner Group: Notorious Private Military Company

By Eric Sof - April 19, 2022

Wagner Group Private Military Contractors from Russia

The Wagner Group is a notorious private military company from Russia. The insights about their whereabouts and origins are not available. According to various reports, the Wagner Group is officially described as a private military company capable of deploying thousands of private military contractors in combat zones.


The Wagner Group was a relatively unknown company among private military contractors. They appeared on the public scene in 2014 after they supported pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine’s armed conflict. That was an introduction to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, where they played a significant role.

Since then, more information started surfacing. Now, they are described as a kind of “unofficial” pro-Russian military force. Their operators were located in Syria, Lybia, Venezuela, Sudan, and the Central African Republic. All these countries have a common element. They are places where Russia and its president Putin have interests. Western experts correlated to the security topics consider it clear that they are aligned with the actions of Vladimir Putin’s government.

Wagner Group secret group of contractors from Russia
Allegedly members of secretive Russian private military contractors company Wagner during their deployment to Syria (Photo: Wiki)

While the Wagner Group is not the only Russian-born private military company with these characteristics, it is best known. Wagner finds precedents for his model in the Balkan War and the Russian volunteers who fought in the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s.

According to the reports, the founder of the Wagner Group is reported to be Dmitriy Valeryevich Utkin, a former lieutenant colonel and brigade commander of a special forces (Spetsnaz GRU) unit (the 700th Independent Spetsnaz Detachment of the 2nd Independent Brigade) of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU). The company’s name comes from Utkin’s call sign (“Wagner”).


The operators working under the Wagner Group are mostly Russian ex-special forces operators (Spetsnaz). They have set up their barracks in Molkin, Krasnodar Krai. Since their foundation, they had no permanent name or legal address in the first years. They were operating fully in shadows. Today, the situation is quite different.

Today, they are registered as a company in Argentina, and they also have offices in Saint Petersburg and Hong Kong.

Their military deployment capacity fluctuates between hundreds and thousands in combat zones. In 2014 were no more than 100 operators. Since then, they have grown up in numbers. In early 2016, Wagner Group had a membership of 1,000, which later rose to 5,000 by August 2017, and 6,000 by December 2017.

The pay of Wagner private military contractors (PMCs), who are usually aged between 35 and 55, is estimated to be between 80,000 ($1087) and 250,000 ($3397) Russian rubles a month. One source also stated the pay was as high as 300,000 ($4077).


Today, Russian private military contractors, including the Wagner Group, are worldwide guns for hire. They are usually deployed in war zones to carry out more specific actions such as providing security or targeted attacks.

Wagner’s staff has operated on the front lines of Russia’s recent wars in Ukraine and Syria. Sometimes they have fought alongside the “official” Russian army, sometimes independently. Wagner operators have also been in Libya and have had a more traditional training and security role in Sudan and the Central African Republic. They were allegedly deployed to Venezuela in 2019 in support of Nicholas Maduro. There are reported deaths of Wagner operators in Mozambique.

Wagner private military contractors in Syria
Wagner private military contractors in Syria (Photo: XY)

The Wagner Group was reported to have been involved in the armed conflict in Libya, but things didn’t go smoothly as the battles against the so-called Islamic State did in Syria. Wagner Group’s performance in Libya has been much less successful, as Russia finally had to redeploy some of its air power from Syria to reinforce its position in the region.

Syrian conflict

In February 2018, the Wagner operators were involved in a battle in eastern Syria when a sizeable unit of Syrian Army and Russian contractors attacked a Peshmerga base near a crucial oil field. The Peshmerga unit was alongside its U.S. instructors. When the Syrians and Russians came to a close, the attack brought a massive U.S. response with possibly hundreds of casualties among the Russian-speaking attackers.

War in Ukraine

According to the Times, more than 400 Wagner operators are sent to Ukraine in the last days of February 2022 on a mission to infiltrate the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv. Their objective is allegedly to find and kill Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his government and prepare the ground for Moscow to take control.


The death toll of the Wagner Group operators has been estimated between 300 and 500 since 2014.