3,000 Wagner Group mercenaries deployed by Russia were killed in the war in Ukraine, MPs said
Christo Grozev of the Bellingcat website said 3,000 members of the private military company are believed to have died in the war between Russia and Ukraine
(Image: OLEG PETRASYUK/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
Almost 8,000 mercenaries from the notorious Wagner Group were used by Russia in the conflict in Ukraine, but they have suffered heavy casualties, MPs were told.
Christo Grozev, executive director of the Bellingcat investigative website, gave evidence to the Commons’ foreign affairs committee and said 3,000 members of the private military company were believed to have been killed on the battlefield.
He said sources within the group – the largest of three mercenary groups involved in the conflict – had told them the number of fights alongside Russian forces had been “much higher” than expected.
These included 200 personnel sent to Kyiv before the conflict in a failed mission to “reconnaissance and assassinate” political figures, while “large numbers” were deployed with convoys advancing on the capital from Belarus.
He said they were also present in Bucha, where some of the worst evidence of alleged war crimes was discovered.
Mr Grozev said they were told by a former group member that some chose to fight because they like to kill.
Agency Anadolu via Getty Images)
“He said about 10 to 15 percent are sociopaths, people who go there just because they want to kill. They’re bloodthirsty, they’re not just adrenaline junkies,” he told the committee.
dr Sean McFate, a senior fellow at the think tank Atlantic Council and a professor at the US National Defense University, said the group’s brutality in conflicts like the Syrian civil war was “part of their selling point” as far as Russian President Vladimir Putin was concerned.
“If you look at Bucha and others, there is the same pattern that you saw in Syria where they interrogated, tortured and beheaded people,” he said.
“One reason I think it has become one of Putin’s weapons of choice is that it allows for a plausible denial between excesses on the ground, failures on the ground, and politics.”
dr However, McFate said that to date, Western countries have not taken the threat posed by the group very seriously and have not followed the movements of its members.
“This has encouraged them (Russia) to use this as a strategy for national expansion and national interests,” he said.
“We haven’t done enough work to track them down. We see them as cheap Hollywood villains, but they really aren’t.”
Mr Grozev said that while imposing further sanctions on the group’s leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, known as “Putin’s cook,” would have little effect, it could be more effective to target individual group members who like to be with their families in the country vacation abroad.
“Knowing that they are doing it is a reason to poke fun at Western sanctions because that’s running the rumor mill,” he said.
“So stopping all these people from traveling internationally, at least to the western world, could be much, much bigger than imposing another sanction on Prigozhin.”
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/3000-wagner-group-mercenaries-used-26748963 3,000 Wagner Group mercenaries deployed by Russia were killed in the war in Ukraine, MPs said