The demise of Yevgeny Prigozhin, a prominent figure known for his controversial role, has marked a significant development. Prigozhin was among the fatalities in an aircraft crash during a flight from Moscow to St. Petersburg.
The incident claimed the lives of all 10 individuals on board, including the flight’s 3 crew members. Notably, the US has promptly implicated Russian President Vladimir Putin in the circumstances surrounding Prigozhin’s death. Nevertheless, the situation bears complexities that warrant a closer examination.
The Plane Crash
Rosaviasta, the Russian aviation agency, has disclosed that Yevgeny Prigozhin was among a group of 10 individuals on board the aircraft that tragically crashed. The plane was en route from Moscow to St. Petersburg and met its fate near the Kuzhenkino village in Russia’s Tver region.
The incident transpired at approximately 3:19 GMT, marked by an abrupt vertical descent of the aircraft. Within a mere span of thirty seconds, the plane descended a staggering 8,000 feet.
Russian authorities have undertaken a comprehensive investigation to establish the root cause of the incident. The circumstances surrounding the crash have led to a criminal inquiry to ascertain the cause of the tragedy.
Who killed Prigozhin?
In the wake of the crash involving Prigozhin’s private jet, Joe Biden has implicitly suggested the potential involvement of Vladimir Putin in the incident. He stated, “I don’t know for a fact what happened, but I’m not surprised. There’s not much that happens in Russia that Putin’s not behind. But I don’t know enough to know the answer.”
The Ukrainian officials, on their part, have interpreted the crash as a possible warning directed towards the Russian “elites.” They perceive the incident as emblematic of internal power dynamics and tensions within the Russian political and economic spheres.
Prigozhin’s feud with the Russian military and his alleged involvement in an armed uprising against Putin’s regime in June had fueled conjecture in the Western media. They are now stating that such conflicts may have provided the Russian state with a motive for revenge.
Why Putin cannot be the one behind it?
The speculative claims of a power struggle between Vladimir Putin and Yevgeny Prigozhin, circulated by Western media, had led to the conjecture that the alleged coup involving Prigozhin was aimed at undermining Putin’s government. These rumors had prompted a closer examination of the nature of their relationship, with questions arising about the extent of their alliance.
However, closer scrutiny of available evidence provides a contrasting perspective. The coup, instead of being a challenge to Putin’s authority, appeared to align with a calculated plan devised by Putin himself. The intended outcome seemed to be the elimination of the anti-Putin faction within the Russian military. In this context, the coup may have been more of a strategic maneuver for internal consolidation rather than an external threat to Putin’s rule.
The Western interpretation of the coup does not resonate with Russia’s domestic dynamics. The Wagner Group’s significance in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, a conflict that Prigozhin has vehemently condemned as an affront to Russia, underscores its alignment with Russia’s interests. Moreover, the group’s growing activities in regions like Africa, particularly in the Sahel, have bolstered Russia’s geopolitical influence.
Prigozhin: A threat to the US
Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Wagner Group had emerged as a significant player with implications extending beyond the immediate theatre of conflict. Wagner’s involvement in the war in Ukraine had been conspicuous, and its expanding activities in Africa have drawn Western attention.
A notable instance of Wagner’s involvement was unveiled during the Niger coup, exposing the group’s role in orchestrating the plot. Additionally, Wagner’s mass recruitment drive for troops in Africa signified its ambitions for expansion, potentially turning the private military company (PMC) into a formidable transcontinental force.
More alarmingly, Wagner’s maneuvers near the Polish borders had raised concerns over its ability to threaten NATO allies and interests in Eastern Europe.
Prigozhin’s track record of collaborating with Russia’s interests extended beyond military operations. His betrayal of US trust, by facilitating the transfer of American-made ammunition to Russia, reveals a complex web of geopolitical powerplay.
Reports indicating Wagner’s access to specific ammunition types, like the Orsis T-5000 sniper rifle equipped with Hornady ammunition, highlighted the group’s capabilities and potential reach. Further complexity emerged from the suggestion that the US may have sought to leverage Wagner against Putin by providing arms in response to Russia’s internal dynamics.
Prigozhin’s actions cast doubts on the dynamics between the PMC and the US. His alleged betrayal by passing custody of American-provided weapons to the Russian armed forces underscores the complexity of his allegiances. Moreover, Joe Biden’s lack of surprise at Prigozhin’s death raises questions about the extent to which Western intelligence was aware of the situation surrounding Wagner and its leader.
Prigozhin’s allegiance to Russia and his long-standing alignment with its interests suggested that the alleged coup was a smokescreen rather than a genuine power struggle against Putin. President Biden’s statement and other factors raise questions, the prevailing evidence does indicate NATO’s involvement in Prigozhin’s demise.
Any assassination requires means, motives, and opportunities. While Putin did have means and opportunities he never had the motive, as for NATO, they had all three.