Russia’s Wagner fighters suffer 30,000 casualties in Ukraine: US

Russia’s Wagner mercenary group has suffered more than 30,000 casualties since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine last February, with about 9,000 of those fighters killed in action, the United States has claimed.

The US estimates that 90 percent of Wagner Group fighters killed in Ukraine since December 2022 were convicts, White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters at a regular briefing on Friday.

Half of the overall deaths among Wagner mercenaries have occurred since mid-December, as fighting in Ukraine’s eastern city of Bakhmut intensified, according to US intelligence.

Kirby said the mercenary group had made incremental gains in and around Bakhmut over the last few days but those advances had taken many months to achieve and came at a “devastating cost that is not sustainable”.

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“It is possible that they may end up being successful in Bakhmut but it will prove of no real worth to them because it is of no real strategic value,” he said, adding that Ukrainian forces would maintain strong defensive lines across the Donbas region.

Kirby told reporters that Wagner continued to rely heavily on convicts, who were sent to war without training or equipment, despite recent comments from Wagner’s founder Yevgeny Prigozhin that he had stopped recruiting Russian prisoners to fight in Ukraine.

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