Der SpiegelDer Spiegel

Yevgeny's Prigozhin's meat grinder: A moment of truth for Russia's Wagner group in Bakhmut

By Christian Esch; Christina Hebel; Alexander Chernyshev; Fedir Petrov; Alexander Sarovic; Christoph Reuter; Fritz Schaap and Andrey Kaganskikh

17 May 2023 · 31 min read

Editor's Note

Der Spiegel dives deep into the grim world of Russian proxy warfare, focusing on Yevgeny Prigozhin, the man leading the notorious Russian mercenary unit, the Wagner Group.

The Russian mercenary force Wagner Group has propped up autocrats from Mali to Syria in recent years. In Bakhmut, however, it now finds itself in the bloody spotlight of the war in Ukraine. Leader Yevgeny Prigozhin has long enjoyed Putin's support – but for how much longer?

The clip that Yevgeny Prigozhin recently posted to his Telegram channel could easily have been mistaken for a poorly made horror film. It shows a field at night, bloodied dead bodies lying in the light of Prigozhin’s flashlight. Also in the video is Prigozhin himself, a brawny, bald man wearing a pistol in a holster. "These are boys from Wagner who died today. Their blood is still fresh!" he growls. The camera pans further, and only now can viewers see that there are four grisly rows of bodies. Dozens of corpses in uniform, many of them with no boots.

Sign in to informed

  • Curated articles from premium publishers, ad-free
  • Concise Daily Briefs with quick-read summaries
  • Read, listen, save for later, or enjoy offline
  • Enjoy personalized content