The head of the Wagner Armed Group said the war’s goal of “demilitarizing” Ukraine backfired because Kiev’s military was made stronger by Ukraine’s allies providing weapons and training.
The leader of the Russian armed group Wagens, Yevgeny Prigozhin, announced that his forces lost more than 20,000 fighters in the final battle to control Bakhmut, noting the death of about 20% of the 50,000 prisoners recruited from Russian prisons to fight in the 15-month war in the city in eastern Ukraine. .
These numbers are in stark contrast to Moscow’s claims that it lost just over 6,000 soldiers in the war, which is higher than the official estimate of Soviet losses in the Afghanistan war of 15,000 soldiers between 1979 and 1989.
Analysts believe that the nine-month fighting for control of Bakhmut claimed the lives of tens of thousands of soldiers, including civilians who received little military training before being sent to the front.
The head of the Wagner Armed Group, in an interview published Tuesday with pro-Kremlin political strategist Konstantin Dolgov, said the war goal of “demilitarizing” Ukraine had backfired because Kiev’s military had become stronger because of Ukraine’s allies providing arms and training.
He reported that the Ukrainian losses were much greater, saying: “The number of dead is three times lower, and the number of wounded is twice as high.”
Prigozhin noted that Kremlin forces killed civilians during the war, something Moscow has repeatedly denied. And he considered that continued Western support for Kiev in the coming weeks might push Russian forces out of southern and eastern Ukraine and Crimea.
“There is a pessimistic scenario: the Ukrainians are given missiles and they are preparing the forces, and of course they will continue their offensive and they will try to do a counterattack… We need to prepare for a difficult war,” he said.