FACT CHECK: Did The Wagner Rebellion Not Kill Any Russian Military Personnel?

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

Russian ambassador to the United Kingdom Andrey Kelin claimed during an Aug. 4 interview no military personnel died during the Wagner Group rebellion.

Verdict: False

At least 13 Russian military personnel died during the rebellion, according to multiple sources. Wagner Group shot down several aircraft during the short-lived rebellion.

Fact Check:

Kelin sat down with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, where he discussed Ukraine’s offensive and other topics. During the interview, Amanpour and Kelin went back and forth about the short-lived Wagner Group rebellion. During this discussion, Kelin denied that any Russian military personnel had died.

From the transcript:

KELIN:The investigation is going on. But in fact, what has happened when these troops has gone to Rostov, no one has been killed at all. No one has
— there was no damage at all. And it was just — in my understanding, it was just — as one of them also said that he is too outstanding. And they say it was something —

AMANPOUR: But you know Russian soldiers died in the —

KELIN: I never recall this information. No, no one has died. (Emphasis added by Check Your Fact.)

AMANPOUR: All right. Well, it was reported that Russian soldiers died. That President Putin also said it was an act of treason.

This claim, though, appears to be false. While the Russian Ministry of Defense did not acknowledge any losses, open-source intelligence showed that six helicopters and a transport airplane were shot down by Wagner, according to Janes. Pro-Russian Telegram channels, such as Rybar and FighterBomber, estimated that between 13 to 20 Russian military personnel died, Ukrainska Pravda reported.

Mason Clark, the Russian Lead for the Institute of the Study of War, said to Check Your Fact that “on the day of we assessed 13 personnel died” and pointed to ISW’s June 24 campaign assessment report which showed that seven helicopters and a transport aircraft were shot down.

“We haven’t followed up on if those exact numbers changed and it’s not worth a dive, but it’s 100% incorrect that no one died,” Clark said.

Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin also claimed that 2 Russian defectors died during the rebellion, according to Novaya Gazeta Europe. (RELATED: Pentagon Claims Last Time U.S. Used Cluster Munitions Was In 2003)

Check Your Fact reached out to the Russian Embassy in the United Kingdom for comment.

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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