The Daily Telegraph

Wagner mercenarie­s pummel their own commander with shovels

- By Joe Barnes Brussels Correspond­ent and Jessica Abrahams

WAGNER mercenarie­s in Bakhmut appear to have beaten and badly wounded their commander using shovels, footage released by Ukraine showed. Four Russian fighters can be seen dragging the man through the battle-scarred landscape in the eastern Donetsk region.

In a second video, shot from a Ukrainian drone, the mercenarie­s can be seen dumping him next to a shack before the brutal assault.

The Wagner Group, which is made up of large numbers of murderers and rapists recruited from Russian prisons, has spearheade­d Russia’s eight-monthlong effort to capture Bakhmut.

Ukraine has claimed that Russia is losing some 500 troops every day in a costly attempt to encircle the city.

On Monday, Volodymyr Zelensky said that his armed forces had repeatedly repelled multiple efforts to encircle the town. “We are countering them. I am grateful to every warrior who ensures counter-action with his resilience,” the Ukrainian president said.

Yesterday, Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s defence minister, said Moscow’s forces were “successful­ly” advancing on Bakhmut and neighbouri­ng Vuhledar. “Military operations are at the moment progressin­g with success in the areas around Vuhledar and Artemovsk [the Soviet-era name for Bakhmut],” he said.

Mr Shoigu proceeded to accuse Western government­s of “trying to drag out the conflict as long as possible” with a steady stream of military aid to Kyiv.

“Such steps draw Nato countries into the conflict and could see it escalate unpredicta­bly,” he added. It came as Ukraine claimed yesterday that the previous 24 hours were the deadliest of the war for Russian troops.

A military spokesman said 1,030 Russians were killed on Monday, describing it as the highest daily toll of the war and bringing the total to 133,190. The figure could not be independen­tly verified.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom