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Over 30,000 men are the losses of the Russian mercenary company Wagner in Ukraine, the White House said on Friday.

The United States estimates that 90 percent of Wagner soldiers killed in Ukraine since December were ex-convicts, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said.

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The leader of the Russian mercenary group Yevgeny Prigozhin meanwhile said earlier today that its forces captured the Ukrainian settlement of Paraskoviifka, bordering the northern city of Bakhmut, the site of the longest fighting in the Donbass for a year.

“Despite the ammunition blockade, despite heavy losses and bloody fighting, our men captured the entire settlement of Paraskoviifka,” Yevgeny Prigozhin said, according to his press service.

AFP was unable to independently verify Prigozhin’s claim.

For more than six months, Wagner and the Russian military have been trying to capture Bakhmut, in eastern Ukraine, a town of limited strategic importance but one that has gained great symbolic importance because of the length and ferocity of the fighting.

Russian forces have been trying in recent weeks to encircle Bakhmut and have succeeded in blocking several roads to the city, vital for resupplying Ukrainian troops there.

Paraskoviifka is located at the northern entrance to the city of Bakhmut, on the main road connecting the bombed city with Siversk.

Prigozhin’s report today in “ammunition block” appears to be a public criticism of the Russian defense ministry, which it accuses of logistical inefficiency, amid disagreements between Wagner’s chief and the military command.

On Monday, the Wagner group announced that they had captured Krasna Hora, a small town near Paraskoviifka.