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The pain of war: The families of dead Wagner fighters speak out

By Christina Hebel

31 May 2023 · 10 min read

informed Summary

  1. Der Spiegel spoke to an aunt and a mother about the fate of two young men, both of whom were sent to the front lines in Ukraine by the Wagner Group and never returned.

Larissa scrolls further and further through her nephew’s chat messages, eventually stopping at a photo of Andrei and enlarging it on the screen. A gaunt, pale young man in a dark sweater, he is gazing into the camera with a serious look on his face. Behind him, the bunkbeds of a prison barrack can be seen. Larissa’s eyes fill with tears. "Why him? He was so delicate," she sobs. When she is finally able to pull her gaze away from the picture, she begins playing an audio recording – the voice of her nephew Andrei.

Clearly trying to sound nonchalant, he says: "Hi, I’m doing well, but I’m going to war…" His tone sounds like he’s just telling her that he’s about to start another round of one of those shooter games she says he used to play as an adolescent. He continues: "But not for the draft board. For a private army … Don’t cry, calm down, everything will be fine … I’m going to fight for six months and then I’ll come home."

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