Wagner fighters in Bakhmut
A still image taken from video apparently shows Wagner fighters on top of a building in Bakhmut CONCORD PRESS SERVICE/Reuters


  • Vatrushev said he was left in a trench for four days before Ukrainian forces found him
  • He claimed the Wagner group is suffering great losses in Bakhmut
  • Wagner fighters were previously seen dumping a gravely-injured colleague at a barn in February

Fighters for Russia's infamous Wagner group — headed by President Vladimir Putin's ally Yevgeny Prigozhin — reportedly abandon their injured comrades in combat zones amid the war in Ukraine, a captured Wagner mercenary said.

Denys Oleksandrovych Vatrushev, 39, had been serving a sentence for murder in prison when he was recruited by Prigozhin to join the Wagner group in Ukraine. He was found abandoned and was subsequently captured by the Armed Forces of Ukraine (UAF) during a battle near Bakhmut after he sustained a leg injury caused by a mine explosion.

In a video posted by UAF Commander Oleksandr Syrskyi, the former Wagner fighter said he joined the Wagner group after being promised a good salary and amnesty after six months. However, he said they were instead thrown into a meat grinder where wounded comrades are left behind. In his case, Vatrushev said he had been abandoned in a trench for four days before he was found by Ukrainian troops.

The captured Wagner fighter also said he would not have joined Prigozhin's group had he known he would be sent to the frontline. He also added that the Wagner group is suffering great losses in Bakhmut, adding that there is a trench in the city "where a corpse is lying on a corpse," as translated by Ukrainska Pravda.

It is not the first time the Wagner group has been reported to have abandoned injured comrades on the frontline. In early February 2023, footage released by Ukraine showed four Wagner group mercenaries hitting their own injured colleague with shovels before dumping him at a barn. It is unknown whether the injured soldier survived.

Abandonment has also been reported in the Russian army. In November last year, UAF troops also found a female Russian paramedic unconscious from blood loss on the battlefield. The paramedic later said she pleaded with her comrades to at least give her a first-aid kit before abandoning her, but said they left her behind without any support.

Also in November, a group of Russian soldiers made a video where they revealed they were abandoned by their command without any food and electricity in the Luhansk region. The group also accused the Russian army of shooting at and shelling their positions when they retreated from their positions on the frontline.

Russian military troops take part in a military drill on Sernovodsky polygon close to the Chechnya border, some 260 km from south Russian city of Stavropol, on March 19, 2015. SERGEY VENYAVSKY/AFP via Getty Images