The likely death of Wagner Private Military Company (PMC) leader Yevgeny Prigozhin shakes the Wagner PMC and could have a profoundly destabilizing impact on the group, reported UK Intelligence on Aug. 25.
Although there is currently no definitive evidence – yet – that Prigozhin was aboard the destroyed plane, and despite his taking “exceptional security measures,” there is a high likelihood that he indeed was killed.
Prigozhin’s traits, like hyperactivity, audacity, a results-oriented mindset, and cruelty, were integral to Wagner PMC. This makes it challenging for any successor to replicate his impact, UK analysts emphasized.
An Embraer Legacy 600 plane crashed in Russia’s Tver Oblast on Aug. 23. Russian media reported that it belonged to Wagner PMC leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin. Prigozhin and his deputy Dmitry Utkin, whose call sign of “Wagner” was used to name the company, were aboard the jet, confirmed the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency.
The incident occurred exactly two months after the start of Wagner’s failed “rebellion” against the Russian government in late June.
In addition to Prigozhin and Utkin, eight other bodies were found at the site. The deceased included close associates of Prigozhin and participants in the war in Syria, as well as the plane’s three crew members, according to media reports.
The cause of the accident is still unknown, with media speculating causes ranging from an air defense missile hit to an onboard explosion.
Russian President Vladimir Putin commented on the potential death of Prigozhin and offered condolences to the families of the deceased. Putin mentioned knowing Prigozhin since the 1990s and indirectly referred to him in the past tense, as someone with a complex history.
The Pentagon also considers it likely that Prigozhin is deceased but is not yet ready to confirm the information.
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