Founder of Wagner Mercenary Group Claims 20,000 Fighters Killed in Ukraine War and Warns of Revolution in Russia

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner mercenary group, has claimed that around 20,000 of his fighters have been killed in the months-long battle for Ukraine’s Bakhmut.[0] He also warned of the possibility of a revolution in Russia if its leadership does not improve its handling of the war, and argued that Ukraine now had one of the strongest armies in the world.[1] Prigozhin, who is often referred to as “Putin’s chef” due to his ties to the Russian president, has frequently criticised Russia’s traditional military hierarchy as he seeks to win a power struggle against military commanders to lead Putin’s ground effort in eastern Ukraine. Earlier this month he blamed Russian defence chiefs for “tens of thousands” of Wagner casualties because they didn’t have enough ammunition.[2]

Prigozhin’s statements come as tensions rise between Ukraine and Russia, with two Russian rebel militias recently crossing into Russia with apparent ease, and Prigozhin calling for Russia to declare martial law and prepare for a heavy war.[3] He also claimed to have recruited around 50,000 prisoners to fight with Wagner in Russia’s war in Ukraine.[4] Prigozhin’s public criticism of Moscow’s generals and defence minister reveals strains in the mighty leadership structure the Russian president has built. If ordinary Russians continue getting their children back in zinc coffins while the children of the elite “shake their arses” in the sun, he warned in his latest video, Russia would face turmoil along the lines of 1917 that brought the Bolsheviks to power.[5]

0. “Wagner chief warns of revolution and says 20,000 fighters killed in Bakhmut” The Guardian, 24 May. 2023,

1. “Wagner chief launches scathing new attack on Putin's war strategy” The Independent, 24 May. 2023,

2. “Wagner chief warns Russians could revolt if invasion continues to struggle” CNN, 24 May. 2023,

3. “Putin is still too reliant on Prizohin's ‘meat army:' reports” Business Insider, 24 May. 2023,

4. “Wagner chief says 20,000 of its troops killed in Bakhmut battle” Al Jazeera English, 25 May. 2023,

5. “Russia could face a revolution, lose in Ukraine war, Wagner chief warns” The Jerusalem Post, 24 May. 2023,

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