Nearly 8,000 mercenaries from the infamous Wagner Group have been deployed by Russia in Ukraine, but have suffered heavy casualties, MPs have been told.
Giving evidence to the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Christo Grozev, executive director of the Bellingcat investigative website, said 3,000 members of the private military company were thought to have been killed on the battlefield.
He said sources within Wagner Group – the largest of three mercenary groups involved in the conflict – had told Bellingcat that the numbers fighting alongside Russian forces were "much higher" than expected.
They included 200 personnel sent to Kyiv before the conflict in a failed mission to "scout out and assassinate" political figures, while a "large number" were deployed with convoys which advanced on the Ukrainian capital from Belarus.
Mr Grozev said mercenaries had also been present in Bucha.
The private company – Wagner Group – is led by Russia's military intelligence agency the GRU.
Cover image: Flags of Russia (L) and Ukraine (Picture: Alamy Stock Photo).