Russia threatened Kiev on Wednesday to respond “extremely” harshly to any future invasion after Moscow deployed jets and artillery to repel militants arriving from Ukraine.
The head of the Wagner Mercenary Corps said 10,000 prisoners of war he had recruited had died in Ukraine as Russia judged the situation after the most severe attack since the Russian offensive against Ukraine began in February 2022. said.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told military officials after two days of fighting in the southern region of Belgorod that “we will continue to respond quickly and extremely severely to such actions by Ukrainian extremists.” Told.
On Wednesday, Belgorod governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said the region had been targeted by a large number of drones overnight. Local authorities said 13 people were injured in the area after continuous artillery and mortar shelling.
The Russian government said Russian forces had killed “more than 70 Ukrainian terrorists” and destroyed several armed vehicles during the skirmish, but AFP could not independently verify the claim. Russia has announced that the remaining fighters have been driven back across the border.
Wagner Party leader Evgeny Prigozhin said his ragtag forces were leading an attack on the eastern city of Bakhmut, and about 10,000 prisoners recruited to fight Wagner had been killed on Ukrainian battlefields. .
“I took 50,000 prisoners of war and about 20 percent of them were killed,” Prigozin said in a video interview released late Tuesday.
Prigogine said a similar proportion was killed among those who signed contracts with Wagner, but did not give an exact figure.
Prigozhin, who has criticized the regular army and blamed Shoigu for Moscow’s heavy losses, said the Russian-Ukrainian border had not been properly guarded.
“Sabotage groups are traversing the Belgorod region with complete nonchalantism,” he said in a video interview.
Prisoners are believed to have been used as cannon fodder in Ukraine, accounting for the majority of Wagner’s losses in pro-Western countries.
– “You can’t hide from now on” –
Last year, Prigozhin toured Russian prisons and persuaded prisoners to fight Wagner in Ukraine, in exchange for a pardon on their return if they survived.
In early May, the White House announced that more than 20,000 Russian troops had been killed and another 80,000 wounded in five months of fighting in eastern Ukraine, particularly in Bakhmut.
Prigozhin, whose influence has grown significantly after more than a year of offensive, has lashed out at Russia’s upper echelons, blaming them for the huge losses.
“Right now, there are tens of thousands of relatives of those killed, probably hundreds of thousands. We cannot get away from this,” he said.
Russia also announced on Wednesday that it will try five foreign men — three British, one Swede and one Croat — for fighting alongside the Ukrainian army.
The trial will take place in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don, and the five are expected to stand trial in absentia.
The men are accused of fighting alongside Ukrainian forces, including the Azov regiment, which fought against Russian troops during the siege of the southern port city of Mariupol.
Brits have been identified as John Harding, Andrew Hill and Dylan Healy. The Swede was named Matthias Gustafsson and the Croat was named Vijekoslav Preveg.