Wagner suffered staggering losses in Ukraine, official says: 28% dead, a further 51% wounded, totaling 62K casualties in just over a year

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Wagner suffered staggering losses in Ukraine, official says: 28% dead, a further 51% wounded, totaling 62K casualties in just over a year
Founder of Wagner private mercenary group Yevgeny Prigozhin makes a statement as he stand next to Wagner fighters in an undisclosed location in this still image taken from video released May 5, 2023.Press service of "Concord"/Handout via REUTERS
  • 28% of the Wagner Group's force sent to Ukraine was killed, according to a group official.
  • The tally said that of 78,000 fighters 22,000 were killed with 40,000 more injured.
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The Wagner Group suffered huge losses when fighting in Ukraine, including 28% of its force being killed, according to an official with the group.

A Wagner Group official identified as Marx said that 78,000 fighters went to Ukraine with the mercenary group, and 22,000 were killed, according to Telegram channel Razgruzka Vagnera. The figures were said to be accurate as of May 20.

News from Wagner often emerges from strange places in Russia's media, including in the past from the press office of founder Yevgeny Prigozhin's catering company.

Razgruzka Vagnrea (Russian for "unloading Wagner") is affiliated with Wagner high command, The Moscow Times reported, and has been the source of news about the group before.

Per its post, as well as the 22,000 dead, another 40,000 were wounded, and that 25,000 stayed alive and well.

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That means the Wagner Group had 62,000 casualties in total, according to the official's figures.

It means 28% of Wagner's force was killed and a further 51% was wounded.

Wagner sent thousands of mercenaries and men it recruited from prisons into Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The official said the majority of Wagner fighters in Ukraine — 49,000 — were prisoners.

Prisoners were promised pardons in exchange for six months of service in Ukraine.

The group's brutal tactics helped Russia in Ukraine, most prominently in capturing the city of Bakhmut. But its leader Yevgeny Prigozhin repeatedly feuded with Russia's military leaders, accusing them of trying to destroy his group by not giving it enough ammunition.

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The update itself was also part of a feud with the Russian authorities, disputing a claim by a politician that 33,000 Wagner troops had joined the regular army.

There is no official figure for exactly how many prisoners Wagner brought into the fighting. The UK defense ministry said that at least 40,000 prisoners were recruited.

The UK defense ministry on Friday also pointed to huge losses of Russian prisoners fighting in Ukraine.

It said in an intelligence update that "20,000 convict-recruits were killed within a few months," a figure in a similar order of magnitude to the Telegram post.

While the Wagner Group is not the only group that recruited prisoners for Ukraine, it was the most prolific group to do so. The UK update noted that Russia's defense ministry had "taken over Wagner's prison recruitment pipeline."

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The future of the Wagner Group is unclear after its leader staged a mutiny, taking over a key Russian military headquarters in a key Russian city and starting to march on Moscow. It ended with Prigozhin agreeing to go into exile and his fighters being told they could join Russia's military, follow their leader, or go home.

But the group is still active in Africa and the Middle East, where it has been accused of war crimes. A retired US general said this bigger role the group plays is why Putin "can't afford to lose" Prigozhin, who the Kremlin said met with Russia's president even though he was supposed to be exiled.

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