Satellite images show the number of graves in a cemetery used by Russia’s notorious mercenary Wagner group has increased dramatically over the past two months.
A photo taken Jan. 24 by Maxar Technologies, a US defense contractor based in Colorado, shows at least 121 burial plots in a section of the cemetery that were allotted to fighters from the private military company.
A photo of the same area taken Nov. 24 shows about 17 graves, indicating a nearly sevenfold increase in two months, according to an NBC News analysis of the site on the outskirts of the village of Bakinskaya. in accordance. Southwest Russia.
The apparent expansion at the site, which is about 200 miles from the border with Crimea, comes after Wagner Group fighters were credited by the Russian Defense Ministry with capturing the eastern Ukrainian town of Solydar earlier this month. has come forward, who saw parts of the war. The fiercest fight.
Wagner Group head Yevgeny Prigozhin said troops from his illegal private army had seized the salt-mining town two days before the official announcement. He later grasped that the Russian army was “constantly trying to steal Wagner’s victory.”
Prigozhin, a longtime associate and former rehabilitator of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has recruited ex-prisoners as soldiers in Russia’s war against Ukraine, promising rewards and amnesty in exchange for their service. Wagner Group has previously supported the Russian military during the conflicts in Syria and Libya.
Acknowledging the fall of Soledar for the first time on Wednesday, a spokesman for Ukraine’s forces in the east, Serhiy Chirivati, said his country’s troops had now moved to pre-arranged defensive lines away from the town, to protect personnel’s lives. Can be kept safe. “
He added that Ukraine had inflicted “huge losses” on Russian troops, comparable to “the aggressor’s losses in the two Chechen wars”.
NBC News could not independently verify the claim.
Two weeks ago, similar aerial images taken around the nearby city of Bakhmut, comparing areas photographed in August and again in January, revealed the destruction of destroyed buildings and bomb craters in the strategically important city. What did These images are also released by Maxer Technologies.
The US government said last week that it would designate the Wagner Group as a “significant international criminal organization” and impose further sanctions against the organization and its support network.
Wagner Group did not comment on the satellite images and video.
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com.