Founder of the mercenary Wagner Group Yevgeny Prigozhin has revealed that his private military company has lost 20,000 fighters in the Ukraine war. Half of the losses represent convicts who were recruited in Russian prisons, Prigozhin told media strategist Konstantin Dolgov in an interview.
The businessman blamed Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu and Russian General Staff chief Valery Gerasimov for the high death toll.
Prigozhin said that the Wagner group recruited around 50,000 fighters in Russian prisons. He also said that at the time when the battle for Bakhmut was raging he had 35,000 fighters serving in the private military company.
“Throughout the [Bakhmut] operation, I selected 50,000 convicts, around 20% of them were killed. The same number as among those who signed up to serve with us on contracts. Approximately another 20% are injured, their wounds make it impossible to fight for at least three months,” Prigozhin noted.
In late March, Prigozhin reported that more than 5,000 convicts were pardoned and released after completing their contracts with the Wagner Group. The White House tally accurate for early May shows that 20,000 Russian service members died in the past five months of fighting for Bakhmut, with half of them being Wagner Group fighters. The White House calculated that the total number of Russian losses in these five months reached around 100,000, including those killed and injured.