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About 6,000 mercenaries of Russia's state-backed Wagner Group are now fighting in Ukraine's eastern city of Bakhmut, U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley said on March 29, as cited by CNN.
Alongside the mercenaries conducting combat operations are also 20-30,000 Wagner recruits, "many of whom come from prisons," Milley told U.S. lawmakers.
"And they are suffering an enormous amount of casualties in the Bakhmut area; the Ukrainians are inflicting a lot of death and destruction on these guys," the U.S. top general said.
"The Ukrainians are doing a very effective area defense that is proven to be very costly to the Russians. For about the last 20, 21 days, the Russians have not made any progress whatsoever in and around Bahkmut," Milley added. "So it's a slaughter-fest for the Russians. They're getting hammered in the vicinity of Bahkmut, and the Ukrainians have fought very, very well."
Earlier the same day, Wagner Group founder and Russian dictator Vladimir Putin's confidant Yevgeny Prigozhin said that the 8-month-long battle for Donetsk Oblast's Bakhmut "has already practically destroyed the Ukrainian army," adding his forces have been "pretty battered" as well.
Ukraine's Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said on March 29 that there are days in Ukraine's east where the ratio of Russian and Ukrainian losses is "as high as 10 to 1."
She stressed that the average difference is lower but that Ukrainian losses are still less than Russia's on the eastern front.
U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said, citing U.S. intelligence, that over 220,000 Russian troops have been killed or injured since the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.