About 6,000 Wagner Group mercenaries fighting in Bakhmut, top US general says

30 March, 10:27 AM
Mark Milley (Photo:REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Mark Milley (Photo:REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

About 6,000 Wagner group mercenaries are fighting in the eastern Ukrainian town of Bakhmut, Donetsk Oblast, CNN television channel quoted chairman of U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley as saying on March 29.

“They’re conducting combat operations right now in Bakhmut primarily,” Milley told the U.S. House Armed Services Committee alongside U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

“It’s probably about 6,000 or so actual mercenaries and maybe another 20,000 or 30,000 recruits that they get, many of whom come from prisons. 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.”

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Earlier, the spokesman for the Eastern Group of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Serhiy Cherevatyi, said that Russia’s Wagner private military company is not able to independently provide offensive operations in the Bakhmut area and is forced to ask for the support of the Russian regular army.

He said that the Russian military has been trying to capture Bakhmut for nine months.

However, the Ukrainian military says it is continuing to stabilize the situation at the front. The intensity of Russian assaults and artillery attacks has lessened noticeably in several areas, the military says.

Moreover, several days ago footage of Ukrainian tanks operating in built-up areas in the front-line city of Bakhmut emerged, bolstering claims by some military experts and media that Russian invasion forces are short of anti-tank weaponry.

Some military commentators have said these signs point to the Russian “winter offensive” having reached “culmination” – the point when the attacking side no longer has the resources or strength to continue attacking.

Ukraine is widely expected to launch its own offensive in spring or early summer. Military experts, both Ukrainian and foreign, have said this offensive is likely to be decisive in determining the outcome of the war.

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