Giant advert for Russia's Wagner mercenary group appears near Moscow highway

March 27 (Reuters) - A giant recruitment advert for Russia's Wagner mercenary force has appeared on the facade of an office building next to a highway in north-east Moscow.

The advert, which covers 17 storeys, shows the group's logo and slogans such as "Join the winning team!" and "Together we will win", along with a picture of a masked man holding a weapon.

Wagner, which fights alongside Russian forces in eastern Ukraine, has sought to replenish troop numbers ahead of a potential Ukrainian counteroffensive.

A truck displaying the symbols "Z" in support of the Russian armed forces involved in a military conflict in Ukraine is parked outside PMC Wagner Centre, which is a project implemented by the businessman and founder of the Wagner private military group Yevgeny Prigozhin, during the official opening of the office block in Saint Petersburg, Russia, November 4, 2022. REUTERS/Igor Russak

The group is thought to have sustained heavy losses as it battles for control of the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, in what has become the longest, bloodiest battle of the war.

Its boss Yevgeny Prigozhin, a 61-year-old ex-convict whose company grew wealthy by catering events and fulfilling contracts for the Kremlin and government ministries, said earlier in March that he aimed to recruit 30,000 new fighters by mid-May.

Private military companies are not allowed to operate inside Russia under the constitution, but can work abroad.

Moscow has backed Wagner with equipment and arms, and has made extensive use of its forces during its military campaign in Ukraine.

Writing by Caleb Davis Editing by Andrew Osborn and Gareth Jones

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.