🇺🇸 Prigozhin's Peril

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The Flag

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Prigozhin's Peril

Last Wednesday, mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin of the Wagner Group, who led a brief armed rebellion against the Russian military earlier this year, was presumed dead after a plane crash north of Moscow that killed all 10 people on board. His death was confirmed by Russian authorities.

Reporting from the Right: Russian Wagner Group warlord Prigozhin among dead on plane that crashed, killing 10, officials say (FOX News)

Reporting from the Left: Belarusian president says he warned Wagner boss twice to watch out (CNN)

From The Flag: Among those accepting reports that Prigozhin died in the crash, the predominant belief is that the plane was intentionally downed by Russian authorities. President Biden told reporters, “There's not much that happens in Russia that Putin's not behind.” On the other hand, while outlets across the spectrum are generally accepting reports of Prigozhin’s death as fact, they are also covering suspicion from some voices. Here’s more on what both sides are saying.


Further Evidence That Russia and Putin Are Dangerous

  • The killing of Prigozhin reminds us of Putin's essential nature. The Russian president is a calculating and remorseless killer.

  • If it’s true that Prigozhin’s dead and Russia orchestrated the attack, it sends a clear signal to anyone within Russia looking to overthrow Putin.

  • For Putin critics, the public spectacle of Prigozhin’s death underscored the degeneracy and ‘prison culture’ approach of Russian institutions.

Prigozhin's murder reminds us of Putin's nature Washington Examiner: “Putin had good reason to want Prigozhin dead. The mercenary leader led a coup attempt against Putin's rule in June. Since it was aborted, Prigozhin had seemed to taunt the president by gallivanting at high-profile events around Russia. … The attack reeks of KGB willingness to destroy innocent lives in a semi-deniable killing of one target. Putin, a former lieutenant colonel in the Soviet spy agency, likes to pay homage to the past in that way. It serves his purposes that his denials are recognizably skimpy. He wants it to be known that he will kill anyone who crosses him. And it is important for Washington to recognize that this is both his nature and his calculation. … Americans should stop fooling themselves that Putin can be a pragmatic partner. … His strategy is to undermine American power, threaten U.S. allies such as Poland, and degrade the democratic international order.”

When Falling out of a Window Is Just Too Subtle Noah Rothman, National Review: “Prigozhin’s death has not yet been independently confirmed, but Russian media’s eagerness to announce his demise is evidence enough of the Kremlin’s preference. Unconfirmed reports (supported by video evidence) show that Russian anti-aircraft fire was used to bring down the private jet… You’d have to be pretty dense to pack the leadership of your vaguely regicidal private army into one airplane and fly it over territory controlled by the murderous autocrat you tried and failed to strong-arm. But given the trajectory of the Wagner mutiny, we can assume neither Prigozhin nor his deputies think too many moves ahead. And if reports that Putin engineered this outcome are verified, it sends an unmistakable signal to anyone in Russia who suffers delusions of grandeur similar to Prigozhin’s. …using the power of the state to decapitate the Wagner Group is many things, but subtle isn’t one of them.”

One more opinion piece from the Right: Prigozhin plane crash worsens Putin’s 'prison culture' of revenge Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner


Mixed: Putin is Weaker vs. Putin is Stronger

  • This might benefit Putin in the short term, but some believe there are growing seeds of doubt within Russia over Putin’s grip on the country.

  • Putin has maintained his stranglehold on power. The death of Prigozhin only further reinforces his power, and he’s stronger than ever.

  • Alternative theories about Prigozhin’s death are being fueled by his reappearance after being reported killed in a 2019 plane crash in Africa

Prigozhin might be gone, but his ghost will haunt Vladimir Putin David Ignatius, The Washington Post: “If the facts are confirmed, Putin will have consolidated his position in the short run. The man he had accused of ‘armed mutiny’ will be gone. Russian defenses are holding in Ukraine against Kyiv. Putin’s hold on power seems firmer than two months ago, when Prigozhin ordered his Wagner militia to march toward Moscow. But Putin’s aura of political mastery has been tarnished, perhaps irreparably. He has weathered past storms because of his role as arbiter of Russia’s elites and his reputation for decisiveness. The Prigozhin revolt damaged both; some members of the president’s inner circle are said to share Prigozhin’s critique of Putin’s impulsive invasion of Ukraine, and of his tactics since. Analysts believe the doubts extend to the Russian security services. Those questions will persist. … Russia watchers have noted the widening circle of skepticism within the Russian elite about Putin’s erratic decision-making.”

Prigozhin appears to be dead — and Putin’s grip on power is stronger than ever Max Boot, The Washington Post: “But when it comes to Prigozhin, there should be little doubt about what happened: He was almost certainly executed as surely as if he had been shot by a firing squad in Red Square. … he demise of ‘Putin’s chef’...is bad news for what it portends: namely, that Putin has maintained his stranglehold on power. … Putin appears as strong as ever, despite his bungled invasion of Ukraine. … It doesn’t seem to matter politically inside Russia that, according to U.S. intelligence, that country has lost as many as 120,000 troops in Ukraine and at least 170,000 have been wounded while utterly having failed to accomplish Putin’s initial objective of extinguishing Ukrainian independence. But even if the Russian people are not notably enthusiastic about the invasion of Ukraine…they remain, for the most part, fatalistic and quiescent. No challenge is emerging even from Putin’s inner circle”

One more opinion piece from the Left: Is Yevgeny Prigozhin really dead? Not everyone is convinced Andrew Roth, The Guardian


Support for Prigozhin Dropped, But Still Significant

Following the Wagner Group and Prigozhin’s uprising in Russia’s western city of Rostov-on-Don, the mercenary leader’s favorability dropped but still held strong support among Russians despite the mutiny.

Prigozhin had the approval of 58 percent of the 1,643 respondents two days before the uprising, per Levada. His approval dropped to 31 percent during the mutiny, and after its unsuccessful conclusion remained at 29 percent (Newsweek).

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