During the entire war in Ukraine, 20 thousand mercenaries of the Wagner PMC died, half of them were recruited prisoners, PMC founder Yevgeny Prigozhin said in an interview with media technologist Konstantin Dolgov.
“During the operation [in Bakhmut], I selected 50 thousand prisoners, of whom approximately 20 percent died. Exactly as many of them died as those who came to us under contract. Approximately another 20 percent were wounded who had wounds, which do not provide the opportunity for three months or more to carry out combat missions,” Prigozhin said.
According to the founder of the PMC, at the time of the battles for Bakhmut, 35 thousand mercenaries remained in the military company.
Prigozhin also stated that the Kremlin, instead of the goal of demilitarizing Ukraine stated in February 2022, achieved the opposite effect, and the Ukrainian army became one of the strongest in the world. “They have a high level of organization, a high level of training, a high level of intelligence, they have various weapons, and moreover, they work on any systems – Soviet, NATO, whatever – equally successfully,” he said, adding that Russia’s illiterate actions played a role in strengthening Ukraine’s combat potential.
On May 4, Prigozhin posed in front of more than a dozen corpses of mercenaries and demanded that the Russian Ministry of Defense provide ammunition to the PMC. The next day, he announced that he planned to withdraw the Wagnerites from Bakhmut on May 10 due to lack of ammunition and heavy losses.
The recruitment of prisoners into the Wagner PMC became known in the summer of 2022. Those convicted of grave and especially grave violent crimes were sent to war: murder, robbery, rape. For six months of contract service, Prigozhin promised the prisoners a pardon and expungement of their criminal records.
In early January, Prigozhin announced the first group of pardons. Journalists from the Agency and the BBC Russian Service identified among them repeat thieves, drug dealers and murderers.
And in early February, the founder of the Wagner PMC announced the end of the recruitment of prisoners from Russian colonies to participate in the war in Ukraine. It is unknown how many prisoners were recruited. The Federal Penitentiary Service reported a reduction in the number of prisoners last year by almost 30 thousand people. The head of the Sitting Rus’ Foundation, Olga Romanova, said that the Wagner PMC could attract up to 50 thousand prisoners. At the end of January, according to Mediazona, there were several times fewer people wishing to go to war in the colonies. Lawyer Yana Gelmel said that because of this, prisoners are forced to join the Wagner PMC, threatening them with new terms.
In turn, the coordinator for strategic communications at the US National Security Council, John Kirby, citing American intelligence data, said that since the beginning of 2023, Russia has lost 20 thousand killed in Ukraine, half of them are Wagnerites. According to him, a significant part of the losses occurred in Bakhmut. About 80 thousand more Russian soldiers were wounded in battles in this and other directions.
The Russian Ministry of Defense does not disclose data on the number of military personnel, volunteers and prisoners killed in the war with Ukraine. The last time the department announced the total number of personnel losses was in September 2022 – 5,937 dead.
Journalists from the BBC Russian Service and Mediazona, based on their sources and open data, as of mid-May, confirmed the death of more than 22.5 thousand Russian military personnel in Ukraine. At the same time, according to their information, 10,230 Russian military personnel have died since December 1, 2022, when the Russian army tried to develop an offensive in several areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. Journalists believe that Russia’s real losses in killed are at least twice as large as the figures that they were able to confirm, that is, at least 45 thousand people.
“From 130 to 270 thousand killed and wounded, that’s just the military.” Ruslan Leviev from CIT – about Russia’s losses during the year of war in Ukraine:
Source : Настоящее Время