Bakhmut: Russia’s Wagner chief says more than 20,000 of his troops died in Bakhmut battle – trendswire
The figure contrasted with Moscow’s widely disputed claims that it lost just over 6,000 troops in the war, and is higher than the official estimate of Soviet losses in the Afghan war of 15,000 troops between 1979 and 1989. Ukraine has not said how many of its soldiers have been killed since the full-scale invasion of Russia in February 2022.
Analysts believe the nine-month fight for Bakhmut alone has cost the lives of tens of thousands of soldiers, including convicts who reportedly received little training before being sent to the front lines.
Russia’s invasion goal of “demilitarizing” Ukraine has failed because kyiv’s army has grown stronger with the supply of weapons and training from its Western allies, chief Wagner. Yevgeny Prigozhin he said in an interview published Tuesday night with Konstantin Dolgov, a pro-Kremlin political strategist.
Prigozhin also said that Kremlin forces have killed civilians during the war, something Moscow has repeatedly and vehemently denied.
Prigozhin, a wealthy businessman with long-standing ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, is known for his bragging, often laced with obscenities, and has previously made unverifiable claims, some of which he later retracted.
Earlier this month, his spokesmen released a video of him yelling, cursing and pointing at about 30 uniformed officers lying on the ground, saying they were Wagner fighters who died in a single day. He claimed that the Russian Defense Ministry had deprived his men of ammunition and threatened to give up the fight for Bakhmut.
He also said in Tuesday’s interview that it was possible that Kiev’s anticipated counteroffensive in the coming weeks, given continued support from the West, could drive Russian forces out of southern and eastern Ukraine, as well as annexed Crimea.
“A pessimistic scenario: the Ukrainians receive missiles, prepare troops, of course they will continue their offensive, they will try to counterattack,” he said. “They will attack Crimea, they will try to blow up the Crimean bridge (to mainland Russia), cut (our) supply lines. Therefore, we must prepare for a tough war.”
The Ukrainian General Staff said on Wednesday that “heavy fighting” continues inside Bakhmut, days after Russia said it had fully captured the devastated city.
Bakhmut is in Donetsk province, one of four provinces that Russia illegally annexed last fall and which it only partially controls.
The head of Ukraine’s ground forces, Oleksandr Syrskyi, said kyiv’s forces “continue their defensive operation” in Bakhmut and have achieved unspecified “successes” on the outskirts of the city. He did not elaborate.
Ukrainian officials have insisted that the battle for Bakhmut is not over.
A Ukrainian commander in Bakhmut told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the Ukrainians have a plan to drive the Russians out of all of the occupied territory.
“But now we don’t need to fight Bakhmut, we need to flank it and blockade it,” Yevhen Mezhevikin said. “Then we should ‘sweep’. This is more appropriate, and that’s what we’re doing now.”
Elsewhere, Russian forces shot down “a large number” of drones in the Belgorod region of southern Russia, a local official said Wednesday, a day after Moscow announced its forces had crushed a cross-border raid on the Russian capital. area from Ukraine.
The drones were intercepted overnight over the province, Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said in a Telegram post, and another was shot down on Wednesday outside the local capital, also called Belgorod. He said no one was injured, but unspecified administrative buildings, residential buildings and cars were damaged.
Ukrainian officials did not immediately comment.
Gladkov, the regional governor, said Wednesday that he had “questions for the (Russian) Defense Ministry” following the attack that reportedly raised alarm among locals and embarrassed the Kremlin.
During a question-and-answer session with residents on social media, Gladkov agreed with a participant who said the Russian military’s actions in Belgorod “raised some questions.”
In Moscow, Russia’s defense chief, sergey shoiguHe vowed to respond “quickly and extremely harshly” to such attacks in the future.
Russia said the day before it had repelled one of the most serious cross-border attacks of the war, and the Defense Ministry said more than 70 attackers were killed in a battle in the Belgorod region that lasted about 24 hours. He did not mention any Russian casualties.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said local troops, airstrikes and artillery defeated the attackers.
Twelve local civilians were injured in the attack, authorities said, and an elderly woman was killed during an evacuation.
Details of the incident in the rural region, which is about 80 kilometers (45 miles) north of the eastern Ukraine city of Kharkiv and far from the front lines of the nearly 15-month war, are unclear. .
Moscow blamed the raid that began Monday on Ukrainian military saboteurs. kyiv described it as an uprising against the Kremlin by Russian partisans. It was impossible to reconcile the two versions, to say with certainty who was behind the attack or to determine their objectives.
The region is a Russian military center that houses fuel and ammunition depots. Moscow officials declined to say how many attackers were involved in the assault or comment on why efforts to quell the attackers took so long.
The Belgorod region, like the neighboring Bryansk region and other border areas, has seen sporadic fallout from the war, which Russia launched by invading Ukraine in February 2022.
At least three civilians were killed and 18 others wounded in Ukraine on Tuesday and overnight, the Ukrainian presidential office said Wednesday, including in the southern Kherson region, where two elderly people were killed in airstrikes.