Russian airborne units have joined Wagner mercenary fighters in the battle for the key eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, according to Maksym Zhorin, a former co-commander of Ukraine's Azov regiment.
Zhorin is not fighting on the battlefield but is in contact with Ukrainian soldiers and helps with supplies.
"Not only the Wagnerites are fighting in the Bakhmut sector on the Russian side," Zhorin said on his official Telegram channel Tuesday.
"Previously, the assaults were carried out first by convicts, followed by more 'elite' Wagner units, but now airborne units have also joined the fight," he said.
"First of all, this is notable because of the use of their regular equipment. Wagner's troops are forced to advance on foot, while Russian paratroopers have armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, which they actively use," added Zhorin.
"Another difference is that for some reason regular troops are less willing to die than Wagner's men. That is why they act a little more cautiously. But they are still dying, just not in such huge numbers."
CNN is unable to independently verify those claims.
Other Ukrainian military commanders have echoed Zhorin's assessment in recent days, saying that regular Russian military troops are now assisting Wagner private military contractors in the fight for Bakhmut.