The Wagner Group, Russia’s most high-profile mercenary outfit, is now a fully-fledged army equal in size to Hungary or Slovakia's military personnel, Serhii Cherevatyi, spokesperson for Ukraine's Eastern Military Command, told the Ukrainian Channel 24.
He hasn’t specified the number of the Wagner Group troops, but Slovakia’s Armed Forces number 19,000 active personnel while Hungary’s Armed Forces have 40,000 troops, according to the World Bank 2019 data.
In the past months, the Kremlin-controlled mercenary company Wagner Group has been trying to seize the city of Bakhmut in eastern Donetsk Oblast, with the support of the Russian regular army.
Cherevatyi said that Ukraine’s forces killed 121 and injured 139 Russian troops in Bakhmut over April 1, while Russian forces shelled the embattled town 232 times.
Since the Wagner Group stopped recruiting prisoners in Russia at the beginning of February, regular Russian airborne troops and mechanized infantry have been deployed to the Bakhmut sector, the military said.
In late January, Olga Romanova, head of Russia Behind Bars, a nonprofit that defends Russian convicts, said that only 10,000 of the nearly 50,000 mercenaries recruited into Wagner had remained in service – suggesting that the rest had deserted or had been killed or wounded.
The U.S. has designated Wagner Group as a “significant transnational criminal organization” and imposed sanctions on its support network worldwide.