Over 30,000 Wagner fighters killed or injured in Ukraine, U.S. says


More than 30,000 members of Russia’s mercenary Wagner Group have been injured or killed in Ukraine, the White House estimates. Of these, about 9,000 have been killed in motion, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby mentioned at a briefing Friday.

Wagner, which was based by tycoon Yevgeniy Prigozhin, a detailed ally of President Vladimir Putin, has been within the highlight in latest months for its positive aspects within the city of Soledar and its efforts within the pitched battle for the city of Bakhmut in Ukraine’s east. The group was designated a transnational felony group by the United States in January.

Of the 9,000 or so mercenaries killed, half misplaced their lives within the two months since mid December, Kirby mentioned. (Russia had freed the inmates given that they battle in Ukraine.)

What is the Wagner Group, the Russian mercenary outfit in Ukraine?

Russian activists and U.S. officers have mentioned that Wagner has boosted its ranks with prisoner recruits, lots of whom are poorly skilled and ill-equipped to battle. A video final yr circulated that purported to point out Prigozhin promising inmates a pardon after six months of preventing.

The United States assessed in December that Wagner had not too long ago recruited 40,000 prisoners from throughout Russia to hitch its forces. The group treats its recruits like “cannon fodder,” Kirby mentioned Friday, “throwing them into a literal meat grinder here … without a second thought.”

Russia — and associates resembling Wagner — has confronted a scarcity of personnel to ship to the entrance of a battle that Putin initially believed would solely final days. While Putin ordered a partial mobilization of reserves final yr, many Russian males of navy age have fled the nation, forcing the Kremlin and Wagner to show to prisons.

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But not too long ago, the group introduced an finish to jail recruitment. Prigozhin mentioned in a Feb. 9 assertion on Telegram that Wagner had “completely stopped” signing up inmates to battle in Ukraine, with out specifying a motive.

Using conscripts and jail inmates, Russia doubles its forces in Ukraine

Western officers and analysts are skeptical. “We believe that Wagner continues to rely heavily on these convicts in the Bakhmut fighting, and that doesn’t show any signs of abating,” Kirby instructed reporters.

Experts on the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) additionally mentioned that such recruitment is more likely to proceed, although in a extra restricted capability. The Washington assume tank mentioned its evaluation of Russian jail inhabitants information between November 2022 and January 2023 confirmed {that a} drop in jail numbers had stabilized, suggesting that the Kremlin is shifting away from utilizing inmates.

Prigozhin has been a loud critic of how Russian navy brass has performed the battle in latest months. One of its fighters not too long ago posted a video on Telegram of useless our bodies in a room; the particular person claims the group is dropping a whole lot of males day by day because the Kremlin just isn’t offering them with adequate materiel, in response to an ISW translation.

A separate evaluation by the U.K.’s Defense Ministry on Friday famous that Wagner prisoner mercenaries are more likely to have a casualty price of about 50 % in Ukraine. London estimates that there have been as much as 200,000 mixed casualties notched by Russian troops and aligned mercenary forces for the reason that Feb. 24 invasion, with as many as 60,000 deaths between them.

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The excessive fatality ratio could be attributed to a lack of adequate medical care, the protection ministry mentioned.

War in Ukraine: What you’ll want to know

The newest: Fighting in jap Ukraine continues as Russian forces make minor positive aspects of their try to encircle town of Bakhmut. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has requested Western allies for fighter jets as Russia mounts a spring offensive. Read the newest right here.

The battle: Russia has been focusing on Ukrainian civilian infrastructure with missile and drone strikes since October, typically knocking out electrical energy, heating and water within the nation. Despite heavy preventing, no facet has made important positive aspects for months. Western allies agreed to a brand new wave of elaborate weapons, together with Leopard tanks, hoping it might change the steadiness on the battlefield.

A yr of battle: Russian President Vladimir Putin’s battle has set off a historic exodus of his personal folks, with information displaying that at the very least 500,000, and maybe almost 1 million, have left Russia for the reason that begin of the battle in Ukraine. Despite that and intensive sanctions, the Russian economic system has remained extra resilient than many anticipated. There are indicators, nevertheless, that Putin’s luck could also be beginning to run out.

Photos: Washington Post photographers have been on the bottom from the start of the battle — right here’s a few of their strongest work.

How you’ll be able to assist: Here are methods these within the United States can help the Ukrainian folks in addition to what folks around the globe have been donating.

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