21,000 Wagner mercenaries killed in eastern Ukraine and “the world wants to kill Putin,” says Zelenskyy


At least 21,000 Wagner mercenaries were killed in action in Ukraine, according to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The Ukrainian leader said the private military company suffered “huge casualties,” particularly in eastern Ukraine where its “most powerful group” was fighting.

“Our troops killed 21,000 Wagner fighters in eastern Ukraine alone,” Zelenskyi told reporters in Kiev on Saturday, adding that another 80,000 Wagner fighters were injured.

“These were huge casualties for the Wagner PMC,” said Zelenskyy, who described his fighters as “the motivated staff of the Russian army” and mostly as convicts who “had nothing to lose.”

CNN has not been able to independently verify Zelenskyy’s claim, which he made during a press conference with Spanish media on the occasion of a visit by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to Kiev.

Sanchez’s trip is his third visit to Ukraine. This comes at a time when Spain is assuming the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, following news that CIA director William Burns has also recently traveled to Ukraine to meet with Zelenskyy and Ukrainian intelligence officials.

Zelensky’s claims about Wagner’s casualties come just a week after the head of the private military company, Yevgeny Prigozhin, led his men in a failed uprising against Moscow.

Wagner troops had marched towards the Russian capital and taken control of military installations in two Russian cities. Prigozhin said this was in response to a Russian military attack on a Wagner camp before a deal brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko defuse the crisis.

The future of the Wagner Group is now unclear. The deal negotiated by Lukashenko will see Prigozhin move to Belarus, and his fighters will be given the option to either join the Russian military or Russian law enforcement agencies, return to their families and friends, or go to Belarus as well.

In his speech on Saturday, Zelenskyy said Prigozhin’s uprising “severely affected Russian power on the battlefield” and could be beneficial for Ukraine’s counteroffensive.

“We must take advantage of this situation to expel the enemy from our country,” said Zelenskyy.

“You’re losing the war. They have not won any more victories on the battlefield in Ukraine, so they are starting to look for a culprit,” he said.

Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

However, he said the counter-offensive would not be rushed because he valued human life and had to be strategic in deploying his troops.

“Every meter, every kilometer costs lives. You can do something really quickly, but the field is mined to the ground,” he said. “People are our treasure. So we are very careful.”

Also during Saturday’s conference, Zelenskyy voiced his fears of losing bipartisan support for the United States after “dangerous messages came from some Republicans.”

“Mike Pence visited us and he supports Ukraine – first as an American and then as a Republican,” Zelenskyy said.

“We have bipartisan support, but there are mixed messages in their circles regarding support for Ukraine. Messages are coming from some Republicans, sometimes dangerous messages, that there may be less support.”

“The most important thing for Ukraine is not to lose the support of both parties,” he added.

When asked by a reporter if he was in danger and fearing for his life, Zelenskyy replied: “To be honest, it’s more dangerous for Putin than for me.” Because only in Russia they want to kill me, while the whole world wants to kill him. ”

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