John Kirby, a spokesman for the White House, stated that in recent weeks, approximately 9,000 fighters had been killed in action. Wagner recruited extensively in Russian jails, and Mr. Kirby stated that the majority of victims were untrained prisoners. Wagner has made gains around the city of Bakhmut despite his losses.
Wagner mercenaries have been prominently involved in Russian efforts to capture the eastern city, which has been the site of some of the war’s toughest combat.
Ukraine troops claim that Wagner fighters were deployed in large numbers over open terrain, and a spokesperson for the Ukrainian army stated that Moscow failed to evacuate wounded and dead troops, leading to the creation of “places where their remains are just piled up,” as the phrase puts it.
Taking Bakhmut could permit Moscow to push on larger cities to the west, such as Kramatorsk and Slovakopol.
However, Mr. Kirby, a spokesman for the US National Security Council, opined that further advancements could prove challenging, given that the gains made in Bakhmut took months to achieve and came at what has been described as a “devastating expense” that just can’t be maintained.
“We might be able to prevail in Bakhmut in the end,” said Mr. Kirby.
Elsewhere, British intelligence officials estimate that Russian regular forces and Wagner troops suffered between 175,000 and 200,000 casualties, including between 40,000 and 60,000 deaths.
The high death toll was “almost certainly” attributable to “extremely rudimentary medical provision,” according to the UK’s defense ministry.
Before the war, the Wagner Group consisted of only 5,000 fighters, the majority of whom were seasoned veterans.
As Russia struggled to find troops for its invasion of Ukraine, it began recruiting tens of thousands of fighters last year – primarily from prisons, according to the US. Officials in the United Kingdom estimate that half of the prisoners have likely been injured or killed.
But this week, the group’s founder, Mr. Prigozhin, stated that prison recruitment would cease. Long-standing tensions between Wagner and the Russian military led to the decision.
He elaborated, “The number of Wagner units will shrink, and we will be unable to execute as many duties as we would like.
Mr. Prigozhin attributed the sluggish progress in Ukraine to Moscow’s “monstrous bureaucracy” and accused the Russian army of inappropriately taking credit for previous Military achievements.
Wagner is reported to have begun operations in 2014 in the occupied Crimean Peninsula and has subsequently carried out operations in Ukraine, Syria, and Africa. It has been charged with atrocities and war crimes.