A man who introduced himself as a Russian security services officer spoke about the situation in Soledar in a live stream with Ukrainian blogger Edhar Mirotvrets (“Peacemaker”) – an excerpt of the video was published on the streamer’s Telegram channel. Journalists from independent investigative outlet Agentstvo (“The Agency”) identified the man in the as Anton Bous, a Russian silovik from Saratov. However, there has been no confirmation of Bous’ status as an officer of Russia’s security services, as well as him being in Ukraine.
In the video, Bous claims that he is now near Soledar. When asked by the blogger whether the town has been captured, the man replies: “We took Soledar, but it was a fucking disaster.” However, when the blogger later asks again if the Russian army has taken Soledar, Bous replies: “F*ck no.” The soldier sometimes slurs his words and appears to be under the influence of alcohol.
Bous also says that “500 people were killed” when the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) struck a vocational school building in Makiivka on January 1, as Russian mobilized troops had been using the school as shelter. According to the security officer, his mother is a military colonel, and was directly involved in “sending these people” to war. According to official data from the Russian Defense Ministry, 89 people were killed in Makiivka, with most of them mobilized from the Samara region.
The officer added that he had studied in Saratov at the Dzerzhinsky military school – most likely the Saratov Military Institute of the National Guard troops (which bore Felix Dzerzhinsky’s name until 1997). Bous's social media pages indicate that he studied at this very institute. According to information found in leaked databases, Bous was a senior lieutenant in the Saratov Drug Control Department in 2014. More recently, he had worked as an engineer for private firms. Agentstvo’s report suggested that Bous could have been mobilized.
Bous also claimed that there are “Russian” and “baptized” people in both Russia and Ukraine, which is why both militaries don't want to “go at each other,” despite the orders received.
“I tell it like it is. The orders are handed down, but we don't want to go at each other. Everything they show on TV is f*cking bullshit. Neither their special forces can go at us, nor ours [at them]. I know there are mercenaries and so on. I'm basically not at war. I don’t apply knowledge I was given at the Dzerzhinsky military school in Saratov. I am [part of] the 29th Special Forces unit of the Russian army, if I have an order, I can take this city within half an hour. At this moment I have 161 people under my command, I’m a captain.”
The man also spoke out about the Wagner Group, saying the private military company recruits people without identification or other documents. According to Bous, the mercenaries are “jailers” and “cannon fodder” and shouldn’t be seen as heroes.
The Ukrainian command claimed that Soledar has not yet surrendered. “The enemy has concentrated the main blow in the Bakhmut direction, especially near Soledar, where fighting is taking place. Ukrainian units continue to hold the defense in the city itself and on the approaches,” said Serhiy Cherevatyi, spokesperson for the Eastern Grouping of Ukraine's Armed Forces.
Pro-Russian Telegram channels, meanwhile, are spreading messages about the capture of a railway station and the settlement of Sil on the western outskirts of Soledar by mercenaries from the Wagner PMC.. In a recent conversation with The Insider, military expert Serhiy Hrabsky noted that almost the entire city is under the control of Russian soldiers, but the AFU still holds positions on its outskirts.