The U.S. estimates the mercenary Wagner Group has suffered more than 30,000 casualties, including roughly 9,000 fighters killed, since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
"About half of those 9,000 have been killed since mid-December," CNN reported, citing U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby. Nearly 90% of those killed in December were recruited from Russian prisons. The group has relied heavily on convicts to fill out its ranks. "That doesn't show any signs of abating," Kirby said, though Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed last week that he will no longer recruit from prisons.
Ukraine's Defense Ministry reported on Feb. 16 that Wager Group and Russian-backed militant groups active in eastern Ukraine were losing up to 80% of some assault units near Bakhmut in Donetsk Oblast.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of Russia's Wagner mercenary group, claimed on Feb. 15 that the eastern Ukrainian stronghold of Bakhmut could be surrounded in March or April. Prigozhin added, though, that it is "hard to predict," and Russia's success in surrounding the town partially depends on the amount of Western weaponry supplied to Ukraine.
Russian regular forces, along with Kremlin-controlled mercenary group Wagner, have been attempting to capture Bakhmut for months as Russia tries to consolidate its grip over the entirety of Ukraine's eastern Donetsk Oblast, around half of which it currently controls.