The leader of the Wagner mercenary company, Yevgeny Prigozhin (centre), was present on the field to claim 100% control of the city of Bakhmut, Ukraine, in a video broadcast on May 20 – Photo: REUTERS
Bakhmut is considered the bloodiest battleground of the Ukrainian conflict. This is also a place where Russian forces fire, while Ukraine often downplays the strategic value of this place.
In recent days, Ukraine and Russia have made conflicting statements about Bakhmut. Wagner’s mercenary group claims control of Bakhmut, while Ukraine insists it is still fighting.
Wagner lost more than 20,000 soldiers in Ukraine?
According to Wagner’s boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin, half of the 20,000 soldiers killed in Bakhmut were Russian prisoners recruited for “special military operations” in Ukraine.
The loss data of Mr. Prigozhin are much larger than Russia’s official statement. Earlier, Moscow said more than 6,000 troops had died in the fighting since January.
The AP reported that if Prigozhin was right, the losses at Bakhmut this time would also far exceed the battlefield in Afghanistan. Between 1979 and 1989, 15,000 Soviet soldiers are known to have been killed in Afghanistan.
As for Ukraine, it has not announced the number of soldiers killed in battle. The conflict in Ukraine has been going on for 15 months.
On May 24, the US said Prigozhin’s statement matched its estimate. The White House also believes Russia has lost 100,000 troops, including 20,000 killed in battle since December.
Half of the dead were Wagner soldiers, according to White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby.
This is not the first time that Wagner has made sensitive statements about Ukraine. The damage disclosure this time appears to be consistent with Prigozhin’s previous complaints about the Russian military’s lack of adequate supplies of ammunition.
Ukraine declares counter-attack on Bakhmut
On May 24, Ukraine said fierce fighting was continuing in Bakhmut. This description contradicts Russia’s claim to control Bakhmut a few days ago.
Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, said Kiev was “continuing defensive operations” in Bakhmut. He also mentioned some “success” in the suburbs of this city.
Meanwhile, a Ukrainian commander in Bakhmut revealed plans to strike back in Bakhmut. Speaking to the AP on May 23, he said that Ukrainian soldiers are planning to arrest Russia.
“We don’t need to fight Bakhmut now. We need to surround him from the flanks and arrest him. Then we will eliminate him. That is more appropriate and also what we are doing,” said the Ukrainian commander.