Big loss to Russia in Ukraine war, revealed by satellite imagery of Russian cemetery

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Russia-Ukraine War: The Wagner Group, a private army fighting on behalf of Russia in the Russia-Ukraine war, has suffered major losses. Satellite images show a sudden dramatic increase in the number of graves in the cemetery used by the Wagner Group over the past two months.

A photo taken on January 24, 2023 by Maxar Technologies, a Colorado-based US defense contractor, shows at least 121 graves in a section of the cemetery allocated to private military company Wagner Group. Maxar has also released its video.

NBC News analyzes the site on the outskirts of the village of Bakinskaya in southwest Russia. A photograph of the same area taken on 24 November showed 17 graves. That is, the number of graves has increased almost seven times in two months.

The site is located approximately 200 miles from the Crimean border. Fighters from the Wagner Group were credited with a victory over the town of Soledar in eastern Ukraine earlier this month. In the Battle of Soledar, Wagner fighters fought fiercely against the Ukrainian army.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner Group, said his private army had captured the salt-mining town of Souledar two days before the official announcement. He later alleged that the Russian military was “constantly trying to pass off Wagner’s victory as their own.”

Prigozhin, a longtime ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and former restaurateur, has recruited former prisoners as mercenaries in the war against Ukraine. Prigozhin promised these fighters a reward and pardon for their service. The Wagner Group has previously assisted the Russian military during the conflicts in Syria and Libya.

Two weeks ago, similar satellite images taken in and around the town of Bakhmut, near Soledar, revealed the devastation of ruined buildings and bomb craters in the strategically important town. The same areas were compared with photographs taken in August and again in January. These pictures have also been released by Maxar Technologies.

The US government said last week that it would designate the Wagner Group as a “significant transnational criminal organization” and impose further sanctions against the organization and its support network. However, the Wagner Group has not commented on the satellite imagery and video.