Investigation: in the battle for Bakhmut, the PMC “Wagner” lost at least 19 500 soldiers

Kostia Andreikovets

In the battle for the city of Bakhmut (Donetsk region), the Russian military structure PMC "Wagner" lost at least 19 547 soldiers, of whom 17 175 were prisoners from prisons and colonies, and the remaining 2 372 were voluntary mercenaries.

This is stated in the investigative publications Russian Air Service and Mediazona, whose journalists claim to have received a complete list with personal data of the deceased "Wagnerians".

According to their data, the structure of Yevgeniy Prigozhin recruited at least 48 366 prisoners for the war against Ukraine. 19 547 fighters are the share of those killed in the period from January 2022 to August 2023, when fierce battles were fought for Bakhmut. In the documents, it is indicated that the PMC "Wagner" spent almost 108 billion rubles (49.1 billion hryvnias) on payments to the relatives of the fallen. On average, each family received 3.3 million rubles (2.4 million UAH).

As The Insider writes, in May 2023, the late mercenary leader Prigozhin himself confirmed in an interview with the pro-Kremlin political technologist Konstantin Dolgov that the PMC "Wagner" in Bakhmut had lost 20 000 mercenaries. In that interview, he called the Armed Forces of Ukraine one of the strongest armies in the world.

  • The battle for Bakhmut between Ukrainian and Russian troops lasted from August 2022 to May 2023. The Russian PMC "Wagner" played an important role in the occupation of the city — it used the tactics of "meat assaults", on which it threw ex-prisoners, and became famous for its special cruelty, including towards prisoners. Bakhmut was eventually completely destroyed, and the Defense Force retreated.
  • On May 25, 2023, Yevgeniy Prigozhin informed that the PMC “Wagner” was leaving the city and handing it over to the control of regular troops.
  • Neither Russia nor Ukraine officially disclosed their losses. The then secretary of the NSDC Oleksiy Danilov said that Ukraine lost 7.5 times less people in the battles for Bakhmut than Russia.