Wagner, the commander of the Russian private army, claims that more than 20,000 of his soldiers perished in the drawn-out battle for Bakhmut, making up around 20% of the 50,000 Russian prisoners he recruited to fight in the 15-month conflict, Associated Press reported.
The amount is larger than the official estimate of the Soviet losses in the Afghanistan war of 15,000 troops between 1979 and 1989 and stands in stark contrast to Moscow’s claims that it lost just over 6,000 men in the conflict.
How many Ukrainian soldiers have perished since Russia’s extensive assault in February 2022 is unknown.
Analysts estimate that thousands of soldiers died during the nine-month battle for Bakhmut, including prisoners who allegedly had no training before being deployed to the front.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Wagner, said in an interview with Konstantin Dolgov, a pro-Kremlin political strategist, that Russia’s invasion goal of “demilitarising” Ukraine had backfired because Kyiv’s military had grown stronger thanks to the supply of weapons and training by its Western allies.
Additionally, according to Prigozhin, Moscow has strongly and repeatedly denied that its soldiers had murdered civilians during the conflict.