40,000 Of 50,000 Russian Criminals Wagner PMC Has Recruited Have Died Or Deserted – OpEd
By Paul Goble
Eighty percent of the 50,000 Russian prisoners the Wagner PMC recruited to fight in Ukraine with promises that they would have their sentences commuted have died or deserted, the Olga Romanova of the Russian Behind Bars organization says, leaving only about 10,000 still in the ranks of Prigorzhin’s force.
A large number of those no longer with the Wagner force have deserted, Romanova continues, with many of them fleeing back to Russia and carrying their weapons with them, likely for use in future criminal endeavors (meduza.io/news/2023/01/23/rus-sidyaschaya-iz-50-tysyach-zaklyuchennyh-zaverbovannyh-chvk-vagnera-na-fronte-ostalis-tolko-10-tysyach-ostalnye-libo-pogibli-libo-dezertirovali).
She notes that the figures she gives are based on outside observations because the Wagner group does not provide any data, routinely reports deserters as having died and even has returned empty coffins to family members in what is an increasing effort to hide losses from desertions (meduza.io/feature/2023/01/20/dozhd-chvk-vagnera-vozvraschaet-pustye-groby-rodstvennikam-byvshih-zaklyuchennyh-pogibshih-v-ukraine).
Romanova’s figures have been partially confirmed in the past by US and UK officials (meduza.io/news/2022/12/23/v-sovete-natsbezopasnosti-ssha-zayavili-chto-chvk-vagnera-otpravila-na-voynu-40-tysyach-rossiyskih-zaklyuchennyh).