Wagner Group fighters have become disposable infantry. Russian Offensive in eastern Ukraine, but a Ukrainian military intelligence document obtained by CNN shows how effective they have been around the city of Bakhmut – and how difficult it is to fight them.
Wagner is a private military contractor run by oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, who has been highly visible on the front lines in recent weeks – and is always quick to take credit for Russian advances. Wagner’s fighters have been heavily involved in capturing Soledar, a few miles northeast of Bakhmut, and the area around the town.
Ukraine’s report, dated December 2022, concludes that Wagner represents a unique threat in close quarters, despite the extraordinary loss of life. The report asserts that “the death of thousands of Wagner soldiers does not matter to Russian society.
“A raiding party does not retreat without an order… the unauthorized withdrawal of a team or the execution of a team without being wounded may be executed on the spot.”
Phone intercepts obtained by Ukrainian intelligence sources and shared with CNN also indicate ruthless behavior on the battlefield. In one, one soldier is heard talking about another who tried to surrender to the Ukrainians.
“Wagnerian grabbed him and cut off his king balls,” says the soldier.
CNN could not independently confirm the call, which reportedly took place in November.
Wounded Wagner fighters are often left on the battlefield for hours, according to a Ukrainian assessment. “Assault infantry are not permitted to carry the wounded off the battlefield on their own, as their primary function is to continue the attack until the objective is achieved. If the attack fails, retreat is permitted only at night.”
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