Wagner Group bodies piled high in grim basement footage in Ukraine

Ukraine: Yevgeny Prigozhin visits bodies of Wagner fighters

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The leader of the Wagner Group has been filmed walking among the bodies of his fighters killed in battle in the east. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Russian oligarch believed to be answering directly to Vladimir Putin, was captured in grim footage as he strolled around a dark basement surrounded by black body bags. The location has not been established – it will have been filmed in the dark to avoid being geolocated by Ukrainian forces – but it is likely to be around the city of Bakhmut, where the mercenary outfit have tirelessly fought without gaining any significant ground for several months. 

In the video, Prigozhin can be heard admitting that “here lie Wagner fighters who died at the front” as he walks among dozens of black body bags. 

He said: “[The bodies] are now being put in zinc coffins and they will return home.”

He then claimed that their “contracts had finished and they will go home next week”. He told the camera that these bodies were being stored in the basement “ready to be sent” back to Russia. 

He added that the remaining forces will “all work during New Year’s Eve” to ensure the bodies are sent back promptly. 

WARNING: THE IMAGES BELOW MAY CONTAIN CONTENT SOME VIEWERS FIND DISTRUBING 

In a later video, he concedes that his forces are struggling around Bakhmut, a city that has been so brutalised by fighting that it has been nicknamed the “meat grinder” by locals. 

“Everyone wants to know when we will capture [Bakhmut],” he said, using the Russian name for the city, Artemovsk.

“In Artemovsk, every house has become a fortress. Our guys sometimes fight for more than a day over one house. Sometimes they fight for weeks over one house. And behind this house, there is still a new line of defence, and not one.

“And how many such lines of defence are there in Artemovsk? Five hundred would probably not be an exaggeration.”

A Wagner soldier then suggested to Prigozhin that their difficulties in making any significant advancements related to a shortage of equipment. 

An unnamed Wagner soldier said: “We don’t have enough equipment, not enough BMP3 [armoured cars] and shells.”

On Tuesday, the British Ministry of Defence suggested the offensives of the Wagner Group proxy forces in mid-December in the Bakhmut area had been “poorly supported”. 

They said it is now “unlikely Russia will achieve a significant breakthrough near Bakhmut in the coming weeks” in that part of Donetsk. 

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And last week, footage emerged of two Wagner Group fighters based in Bakhmut calling the Russian chief of the Armed Forces, General Valery Gerasimov, a “f***ing devil” and a “piece of s**t” after complaining that they have “no more ammunition”. 

The two soldiers, visibly furious as they addressed the Kremlin official directly, said: “We have no more ammunition. There are guys dying for us and we are sitting here, not helping. 

“We need ammunition! We want to f*** everyone. We are fighting here in Bakhmut against the whole Ukrainian Army. Where are you?”

The second mercenary said: “Help us, finally. There is nothing more to call you except for one word, f****t.”

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