May 24, 2023 -KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — The head of the Russian private army Wagner says his force lost more than 20,000 fighters in the drawn-out battle for Bakhmut, with about 20% of the 50,000 Russian convicts he recruited to fight in the 15-month war dying in the eastern Ukrainian city.
The figure was in stark contrast with claims from Moscow that it lost just over 6,000 troops in the war, and is higher than the official estimate of the Soviet losses in the Afghanistan war of 15,000 troops between 1979-89. Ukraine hasn’t said how many of its soldiers have died since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022.
Analysts believe the nine-month fight for Bakhmut alone have cost the lives of tens of thousands of soldiers, among them convicts who reportedly received little training before being sent to the front.
Russia’s invasion goal of “demilitarizing” Ukraine has backfired because Kyiv’s military has become stronger with the supply of weapons and training by its Western allies, Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin said in an interview published late Tuesday with Konstantin Dolgov, a pro-Kremlin political strategist.