Wagner troops in Bakhmut are ‘definitely’ on drugs, says Ukrainian fighter

  • Ukrainian soldiers have been fighting a battle in Bakhmut against the Russian Wagner Group for months, with both sides suffering heavy casualties.
  • A Ukrainian soldier, identified as Leshiy, believes that members of the Wagner group do drugs because they don’t seem to care about casualties and are willing to work in extreme conditions.
  • If Russia captures Bakhmut, it will be the first time either side has gained ground in months.

As the fighting in Bakhmut gets bloodier and bloodier, a Ukrainian soldier is certain that members of the Russian Wagner group are using illegal substances.

The front lines of the Russian-Ukrainian war which entered its second year on Feb. 24 shifted towards Bakhmut last fall, and Russian soldiers have mostly surrounded the town, with both sides suffering heavy casualties. A report from Kyiv Post said Russian tactics are so fierce that they are losing soldiers at a rate of 7 to 1 to Ukraine. However, the losses do not seem to deter Russian efforts.

Ukrainian troops have held the city for months, but recently the leadership has discussed strategically withdrawing from Bakhmut to preserve their ranks. However, on Monday the Kyiv Post reported that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had instructed his leadership to find “appropriate forces” to help troops in Bakhmut and soldiers to continue fighting.

A member of the Ukrainian Armed Forces has described the inhumane actions of members of the Wagner Group, a Russian private military company, in an exclusive interview with Kyiv Post. The soldier said he felt like the mercenaries were using drugs to fight in such a weird way.

Ukrainian soldiers take shelter in the woods along a road outside the strategic Ukrainian town of Bakhmut on January 18, 2023. A Ukrainian soldier said he was sure the Wagner Group mercenaries were drugging themselves when he described their actions on the front lines.

“In my opinion, they are definitely taking some kind of drug, because people in a normal psychological state wouldn’t do that,” said the soldier, identified only as Leshiy.

Leshiy described how Wagner Group soldiers dig trenches under fire from Ukrainian troops. After the death of the trench digger, another takes his place.

“So they push the dead one out and the next one comes out to dig deeper,” Leshiy said. “You kill the next one. And they can do that for three days straight.”

Leshiy doubts the Wagner Group soldiers are acting with a clear mind, as he reported that some only wore T-shirts in freezing weather.

“They don’t care about losses,” Leshiy said. “Everything was covered in corpses.”

Yevgeny Prigozhin – founder of the Wagner Group – helped the Russian mission in Ukraine mainly by recruiting soldiers to fight. Many Wagner Group soldiers are Russian convicts, some personally recruited.

The Wagner group would demand strict adherence to rules, such as soldiers cannot abandon the group, have sex, use drugs, or drink alcohol or they will be executed. In exchange for their service, the soldiers are promised a pardon for their crimes.

On March 4, Prigozhin claimed that Russia was close to victory and that Bakhmut was surrounded. But a few days later he made a desperate plea for ammunition.

War strategists have predicted that Ukraine will complete a tactical withdrawal from the Bakhmut front lines for weeks. However, Prigozhin recently reported that Ukraine continues to provide troops to the region. If Russia captures Bakhmut, it will be the first time both sides have gained ground in months, as the war reached a stalemate over the winter.

Newsweek contacted the Center for Strategic and International Studies via email for comment.


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