Wagner mercenary fighting in Ukraine had his testicles cut off by commanders after trying to surrender, according to a new report.
Citing phone intercepts, a Ukrainian military intelligence document detailed how one fighter attempted to give himself up to Kyiv’s forces, but was punished severely.
One soldier is heard telling another: ‘The Wagnerians caught him and cut his f**king balls off,’ according to the document obtained by CNN.
The Russian private military contractor, owned by oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, has developed a reputation over the years for its merciless attitude on the battlefield.
Prigozhin has recruited prisoners to fight along-side his more elite soldiers, using the convicts as canon fodder to advance over the blood-soaked fields of Ukraine.
However, after Wagner and Moscow’s push to take the town of Soledar – a small town near the key objective of Bakhmut – a Russian journalist has said just one-fifth of the Russian prisoners recruited by Prigozhin remain after the intense fighting.
Speaking in a YouTube video posted by the My Russian Rights project, Olga Romanova, head of the Rus Seated charity foundation, said Wagner had recruited around 42,000 to 43,000 convicts by the end of 2022.
That number has now likely surpassed 50,000 fighters, but ‘10,000 are fighting at the front, because all the rest are either killed…or missing, or deserted, or surrendered,’ she said, according to a translation of her comments by Meduza.
She claimed that desertion has been a major problem for the Wagner Group since Autumn, with fighters often returning home fully armed with weapons.
Romanova speculated that Prigozhin does not keep tabs of soldiers who go missing, instead just writing them off as dead.
This may explain, she said, why he has been caught sending empty coffins of the ‘war dead’ back to their families in Russia.
Those Wagner mercenaries that are caught surrendering or deserting the PMC face severe consequences, instilling fear into other PMC fighers.
Yesterday, it was reported that a high-ranking Wagner fighter had been arrested in Norway after he fled across the border seeking asylum, fearing for his life.
Russian Andrey Medvedev has said he was in the same unit as Yevgeny Nuzhin – who changed sides in the Ukraine war – and was executed with a sledgehammer in a harrowing video that circulated online for doing so.
At the time, Prigozhin described Nuzhin as a traitor, with the close ally of Vladimir Putin saying a ‘dog receives a dog’s death’ in response to the clip.
Now, in the Ukrainian military intelligence document, a new account thought to be from November has come to light suggesting that a Wagner deserter had his testicles cut off for trying to surrender to Kyiv’s forces.
The same report dated December 2022 detailed the unique threat posed by Wagner.
‘The deaths of thousands of Wagner soldiers do not matter to Russian society,’ the report states, according to CNN which obtained it.
‘Assault groups do not withdraw without a command… Unauthorized withdrawal of a team or without being wounded is punishable by execution on the spot.’
The report also says that Wagner mercenaries are not allowed to carry the wounded off the battlefield, meaning injured troops can be left on the floor for hours.
‘If the assault fails, retreat is also allowed only at night,’ it adds.
Despite the brutality of the tactics, they are the only ones that are effective for the poorly trained mobilised Russian troops that make up the majority of Putin’s forces, the report suggests, according to CNN.
It even says that Russia’s army may be starting to employ Wagner-like tactics, instead of the typical battalion tactical groups used by the Russian Armed Forces.
Some Russian mobilised troops are even considering joining Wagner, it says.
Wagner deploys its forces in mobile groups of a dozen or fewer, using rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and drones to gather intelligence. The report describes this as the ‘key element’ to their advances.
The mercenaries also use Motorola equipment to communicate. The company told CNN it has suspended all sales to Russia and closed its operations there, suggesting the PMC is sourcing the hardware from elsewhere.
CNN says the report explains how Wagner sends in the convicts in its first wave of an attack, who take the heaviest casualties.
Prigozhin’s more elite soldiers, equipped with modern equipment including thermal imaging and other night-vision devices, follow the initial wave.
Ukraine’s own use of drones is also vital in its defence against such tactics. The document says in December, a Ukraine-operated drone spotted an advancing Wagner group, allowing Kyiv’s forces to eliminate it before it got too close.