Head of Russian private army Wagner says more than 20,000 of his troops died in Bakhmut battle

The head of a private Russian army reported this week that more than 20,000 men under his command died in a fierce battle in Ukraine, undercutting the Kremlin's report that only 6,000 Russian forces had died.


World News

May 24, 2023 - 1:57 PM

Artillerymen of the Ukrainian 80th separate airborne assault brigade fire from a BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launcher toward Russian positions on the front line near Bakhmut April 18. Photo by Anatolii Stepanov/AFP/Getty Images/TNS

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — The head of the Russian private army Wagner has again broken with the Kremlin line on Ukraine, saying its goal of demilitarizing the country has backfired, acknowledging Russian troops have killed civilians and agreeing with Western estimates that he’s lost more than 20,000 men in the battle for Bakhmut.

Yevgeny Prigozhin said about half of those who died in the eastern Ukrainian city were Russian convicts recruited for the 15-month-old war. His figures stood in stark contrast to Moscow’s widely disputed claims from that just over 6,000 of its troops were killed throughout the war as of January. By comparison, official Soviet troop losses in the 1979-89 Afghanistan war were 15,000.

Ukraine hasn’t said how many of its soldiers have died since Russia’s full-scale invasion began in February 2022.

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