Smoke rising over the town of Chasiv Yar, near Bakhmut, after Russian shelling


  • Ukraine's border guard service killed at least 15 Wagner Group fighters in Bakhmut
  • The Russian mercenaries were subjected to a mortar strike after being spotted from the air
  • Up to 30,000 Russian servicemen, including Wagner Group soldiers, have been killed in Bakhmut

The State Border Guard Service of Ukraine (DPSU) killed several Russian mercenaries during a single engagement that took place in the partially occupied Ukrainian province of Donetsk, the agency said Sunday.

More than a dozen members of the Wagner Group, a Russian paramilitary organization currently taking part in Russia's invasion of Ukraine, were killed following a mortar strike on a garage complex located in the besieged city of Bakhmut, the DPSU said in a Facebook post.

"As a result, border guards killed at least 15 mercenaries," the service, which also shared what is understood to be video footage of the encounter, stated.

The DPSU was reportedly able to determine that Wagner Group fighters, also known as Wagnerites, were in the area after aerial reconnaissance spotted the mercenary outfit's assault forces clustered in Bakhmut.

Russia has been focused on Bakhmut since the summer of 2022, but it has failed to completely seize the settlement.

Up to 30,000 Russian servicemen have already been killed or wounded in the fight for the city, Ian Stubbs, a senior military adviser part of the United Kingdom's delegation to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said.

These included both soldiers from Russia's regular army and fighters from the Wagner Group, which is owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch known to be an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukrainian state news agency Ukrinform reported.

While Russia's assault on Bakhmut has stalled likely because of the "extreme attrition" its forces have experienced, the Ukrainians have "also suffered heavy casualties" in their defense of the city, the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defense said in an intelligence briefing released Saturday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky previously warned that the fall of Bakhmut would provide Russian forces an "open road" to neighboring settlements such as Kramatorsk and Slovyansk.

"This is tactical for us. We understand what Russia wants to achieve there. Russia needs at least some victory - a small victory - even by ruining everything in Bakhmut, just killing every civilian there," Zelensky told CNN in an interview published earlier this month.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, for his part, stated that Bakhmut's true worth was more symbolic than strategic.

"The fall of Bakhmut won't necessarily mean that the Russians have changed the tide of this fight," Austin told reporters on March 6 while he was visiting Jordan as part of a military tour in the region.

Ukrainian servicemen launch a drone not far from the Ukrainian town of Bakhmut in the Donetsk