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Defense Ministry: Wagner Group losing up to 80% of some assault units near Bakhmut

by The Kyiv Independent news desk February 16, 2023 2:24 AM 2 min read
A Ukrainian serviceman of the 93rd brigade covers his ears while firing a French 120mm rifled towed mortar towards Russian positions in Bakhmut, Donetsk Oblast on Feb. 15, 2023. (Yasuyoshi Chiba / AFP via Getty Images)
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Russia is incurring heavy losses amid its near round-the-clock assault on the town of Bakhmut in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk Oblast.

Kremlin-backed private mercenary Wager Group and Russian-backed militant groups active in eastern Ukraine are losing up to 80% of some assault units, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said on Telegram. "Evacuation of the dead and wounded is limited or not carried out at all," she wrote.

Malyar also said that the situation in the front-line town is very tense and difficult for Ukrainian forces. "You can see for yourself what kind of war the Russian Federation is waging," she said, adding that Ukrainian forces are holding back Russian advances in the area.

Serhii Cherevatyi, the spokesman of the Eastern Group of Ukraine's Armed Forces, also said on Feb. 15 on national TV that Russian troops had lost 119 people killed and 163 wounded near Bakhmut over the last 24 hours.

According to Malyar, Russia's significant losses are partly due to a low level of trust in the Russian military command.

"More and more Russian servicemen realize that their commanders inadequately assess the situation on the battlefield, as evidenced by the intensive use of so-called "death squads" - units staffed by insufficiently trained mobilized personnel, who daily suffer heavy combat and sanitary losses," she wrote.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of Russia's Wagner mercenary group, claimed on Feb. 15 that Bakhmut in Donetsk Oblast 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.

New York Times: Analysis reveals US medic killed by guided missile in Bakhmut
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