Even 150 years ago, a huge underground deposit of salt was found in Donbas. Since then, more than 250 million tons (more than 275 million US tons) of salt have been mined at this place, and the tunnel system has been extended for 300 km (186 miles). However, this does not mean that the reserves have been exhausted.
Even the city that grew up next to the salt mines is now called Soledar—from Ukrainian, it can be translated as “gift of salt”. More than 11,000 people lived there, of whom almost 4,000 worked in salt extraction, and the local enterprise was considered one of the largest salt producers in the world.
In the grandiose man-made caves, you could see entire labyrinths, a salt football field, a cafe, a church, a concert hall, and salt sculptures. And a whole underground sanatorium functioned there—after all, air saturated with salt has a positive effect on the respiratory tract.
Did you notice the past tense in the previous paragraph? In the winter of 2023, after six months of fierce fighting, the Armed Forces of Ukraine withdrew from Soledar, inflicting numerous losses on the Russian army. Now the city and its people are waiting for the return to their motherland, which will definitely happen.
And on the eve of the anniversary of the full-scale invasion, the state-owned enterprise Artemsil from Soledar released a limited batch of salt, which survived despite the destruction of industrial facilities due to Russian shelling. The saved 20 tons (22 US tons) were divided into 100,000 symbolic bundles and named “Mits. Ukrainska kamiana” (Eng. “Hardiness. Ukrainian stone”). All profits from sales will go to the formation of a flotilla of FPV kamikaze drones for the Ukrainian intelligence.
An example of hope and courage for Soledar can be found in the neighboring city of Bakhmut. The enemy has been throwing its best forces at him for six months, but Ukrainian defenders are showing iron resistance. By the way, it was in Bakhmut in 1917 that the first blue-and-yellow flag was raised in the Donetsk region. In 1924, the Bolsheviks, who eventually captured the city, renamed it Artemivsk. Until 1932, the city was the main one in the region, until the Soviet authorities moved the center to Donetsk because Bakhmut had “too serious Ukrainian traditions.”
By the way, Bakhmut also has its own caves. In the old gypsum tunnels, at a depth of more than 72 meters (236 feet), there is “Artwinery”—a famous brand of sparkling wines. In peacetime, this brand was sold in more than twenty countries in Europe and the world: Germany, Denmark, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Belgium, Canada, Australia, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Israel, Moldova, Croatia, Thailand, Great Britain, etc. And the plant has 13 Grand Prix from international competitions, 76 gold, 44 silver, and 7 bronze medals, as well as more than 75 diplomas. After the victory in Ukraine, this list will surely increase.