“Wagner is a criminal organization that commits massive atrocities and human rights abuses,” said John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council. He added that the mercenaries “have about 50,000 people stationed in Ukraine, mostly convicts in Russia.”
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“We believe the Wagner group currently has about 50,000 people stationed in Ukraine, including 10,000 mercenaries and 40,000 prisoners, to the extent that the Russian Defense Ministry has ‘questions’ about ‘recruitment methods’,” he said. According to British intelligence, the Wagner group’s mercenaries have now become a “vital component” of the Russian war machine.
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Kirby said the US would take further sanctions against the Wagner group. The paramilitary group led by Yevgeny Prigozhin has recently been actively involved in the fierce battle for Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine.