The head of Wagner Group, the Russian mercenary outfit, said Sunday that fighting in the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut is getting “fiercer” as Ukraine keeps pouring troops in to defend the area.
“The situation in Bakhmut is difficult, very difficult, with the enemy fighting for each meter. And the closer we are approaching the city center, the fiercer fighting is growing, the more artillery and tank being used against us,” said Yevgeny Prigozhin.
Prigozhin said Ukraine is “supplying endless reserves” but insisted the Wagner fighters would keep “moving forward.” Since mid-January, Wagner and the regular Russian forces have been making gains around Bakhmut and recently took the eastern district of the small city, which has a pre-war population of 70,000.
Also on Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed Russia had suffered 1,100 dead troops in just a week of fighting for Bakhmut, but the number is not verified. Zelensky is justifying his decision to keep defending the city by claiming Russia is suffering massive casualties attempting to capture it.
While exact numbers on both sides are unknown, it’s clear Ukraine is taking heavy casualties in the city. German intelligence estimated in January that Ukraine is losing hundreds of soldiers each day in the brutal battle. Ukrainian troops are being sent into what they call the “meat grinder” in Bakhmut with little training, support, or weapons.