Ukraine updates: Wagner Group reports 10,000 prisoner deaths
Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin reported casualties that far exceed the official data from Moscow. Meanwhile, Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowed to bolster the marine corps after visiting the front line. DW has the latest.
The head of Russian mercenary group Wagner said around 10,000 prisoners who had been recruited to fight in Ukraine had been killed on the battlefield.
Yevgeny Prigozhin made international headlines six months into the invasion of Ukraine after he was seen touring Russia’s prisons and offering amnesty to those who agree to fight, provided they come back alive.
“I took 50,000 prisoners of which around 20% were killed,” Prigozhin said in a video interview published late on Tuesday.
He added that a similar proportion had been killed among the general population who had also chosen to enlist with the mercenary group.
The combined Wagner Group figures are a stark contrast to the official statistics released by Moscow, which claimed just over 6,000 casualties late last year.
They are also higher than the official estimate of Soviet losses in Afghanistan at 15,000 casualties between 1979 and 1989.
Prigozhin is a longtime ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, but has more recently been at loggerheads with the Kremlin in a series of video updates in which he has made unverified, expletive-laden claims, some of which he as backtracked on.
In the interview, he accused the Kremlin’s forces of killing civilians during the war, an accusation Moscow has repeatedly and vehemently denied.
Prigozhin has also more broadly blamed losses in the front line city of Bakhmut on a lack of support from Russia’s military.
“There are now tens of thousands of relatives of those who were killed. Probably there will be hundreds of thousands,” he said in the interview. “We cannot hide from this.”