Wagner troops wouldn't 'stop coming' and climbed over bodies of dead comrades like something out of a 'zombie movie,' says Ukrainian soldier




A defaced mural of Russia
A defaced mural of Russia's mercenary group Wagner reading "Wagner Group - Russian knights" on the side wall of an apartment bock in Belgrade on January 20, 2023.  
  • A Ukrainian soldier compared fighting Russia's Wagner Group to something like a "zombie movie."

  • "They're climbing above the corpse of their friends, stepping on them," the soldier told CNN.

  • He detailed an "uninterrupted," 10-hour battle in which Russian mercenaries "didn't stop coming."

A Ukrainian soldier who recently had a run-in with a group of Wagner mercenaries said the fighters "didn't stop coming" during a battle in Bakhmut, Ukraine.

"We were fighting for about 10 hours in a row. And it wasn't like just waves - it was uninterrupted. So it was just like they didn't stop coming," the soldier, named Andriy, told CNN of fighting troops from the Wagner Group, a private military contractor linked to the Kremlin that consists of mercenaries and former prisoners.

He said the fight was between 20 Ukrainian soldiers and about 200 Wagner troops and described it as a "frightening and surreal experience."

Andriy detailed the ruthless nature of these fighters, comparing the battle to something out of a "zombie movie."

"They're climbing above the corpse of their friends, stepping on them," he told CNN. He even suggested that the Wagner troops might be "getting some drugs before the attack."

Andriy said their machine gunner was "almost going crazy" because he knew he was shooting at and hitting his targets, but none of the troops he hit were falling.

"He said, 'I know I shot him, but he doesn't fall,'" Andriy told CNN. "And then after some time, when he maybe bleeds out, so he just falls down."

The soldier said his group's AK-47 rifles became so hot from constantly firing at the Wagner troops that they had to keep switching out guns.

He described Wagner's attack method to CNN, saying that first, they send a group of attackers - mainly made up of recruits fresh from Russian prisons. At that point, they begin "digging into position," Andriy said.

A second group then advances to claim more land "step by step," moving forward and into position, Andriy recalled. As Wagner loses more troops and groups are exhausted, they send more as an attempt to hold their spot on the battlefield.

Eventually, Andriy's group was surrounded. "We didn't expect them to come from there," he told CNN.

"We were shooting until the last bullet, so we threw all the grenades we had and left only me and a few guys. We were helpless in that situation," he told CNN.

At the end of the day, Andriy and comrades got a stroke of luck: Wagner retreated.

Tens of thousands of Wagner fighters have joined in Russia's war efforts to capture Bakhmut, where intense fighting has raged for months. Among the group's fighters are recruited prisoners who have been sent to the front lines - sometimes alongside newly mobilized Russian troops - and used to absorb heavy Ukrainian fire.

US military officials have said that these forces are taking the brunt of Ukrainian firepower.

Top US Gen. Mark Milley said last month that Russian casualties have climbed to "significantly well over 100,000 now." That assessment includes the regular military and Wagner.

Though Wagner is taking heavy losses, the group also appears to be the only Moscow-linked force that has found any sort of success on the battlefield, specifically the capture of the strategically insignificant Soledar, and its prominence has at times caused rifts between the mercenary group and Russia's regular military.

The US government announced a litany of new sanctions last week aimed at the Wagner Group, designating it a "significant transnational criminal organization" and targeting individuals and entities involved in supporting its global network.

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