Satellite images of an area near a village in Russia show a rapidly expanding cemetery where many who died fighting for the Wagner Group are buried.
Photos of rows of fresh graves near the village of Bakinskaya in the Krasnodar region first appeared on social media last December. And in January. On February 2, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti showed footage of Wagnerian founder Yevgeny Prigozhin visiting the site and laying a wreath on one of the tombs.
“Here we bury fighters who said in their will that they wanted to be buried here,” Prigozhin explained, according to RIA. “Or orphans, and those whose relatives, for some reason, did not want to take their bodies.”
Satellite photo taken on November 24, 2022, showing three rows of graves on the new plot. When Prigozhin visited in early January, he told RIA Novosti that 93 graves had been dug. Another Maxar satellite image taken on January 1. 24 shows that the plot is almost full, with 14 more lines left.
The Baginskaya cemetery, shown in satellite images, and a secondary site in the nearby town of Goryachy Klyuch, may hold the bodies of about 1,000 Wagnerian soldiers, according to the War Institute.
Local activists reported that mercenary groups began using the Bakinskaya cemetery after Goryachy Klyuch’s Wagner-affiliated church ran out of space.
“The majority of Wagner Group personnel reportedly buried at these sites are prisoners, a result of the Wagner Group’s over-reliance on prison recruitment and their use in costly attacks,” ISW said in an analysis on Friday.
“The high number of casualties may limit the Wagner Group’s ability to continue its high-speed offensive operations and may prompt further prison recruitment efforts,” it added.
More on Wagner’s role in Ukraine: Wagner fighters, locked in a protracted war of attrition with Ukrainian troops after capturing the town of Soledar, are now attacking Bakhmut and surrounding villages. Ukrainian officials said Wagner sent wave after wave of infantry into their positions, taking heavy losses in the process.
The high number of casualties earned the region the nickname “The Meat Grinder,” and the rapidly expanding cemetery at Baginskaya illustrates the high death toll.
According to Wagner founder Yevgeny Prighozin, only some of the group’s fighters are buried there.
The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday designated Wagner a significant transnational criminal organization and imposed a series of sanctions on the multinational networks that support it.