Wagner Group mutiny leader Prigozhin likely killed in plane crash

Russian media outlets appeared to confirm claims Wednesday that a plane with Wagner Group head Yevgeny Prigozhin on board crashed outside Moscow.

Prigozhin led a two-day mutiny of his for-hire soldiers in June in which a column of Wagner mercenaries left the Ukrainian frontlines and drove halfway to Moscow, largely unchallenged by Russian security forces. The rebellion was seen as deeply humiliating to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

All reports and media around the crash were unconfirmed by US authorities Wednesday afternoon but a spokesperson for the National Security Council tweeted that “no one should be surprised” by the mercenary chief’s death.

Russian news service TASS reported that Prigozhin was on the plane and several outlets reported that Wagner officials were confirming the news.

Several videos from the ground captured by phone videos showed a private jet tumbling from the sky, trailing smoke. Loud booms were reportedly heard just before the crash.

Mash, a Russian-language Telegram channel posted video of a burning airplane in a field with text that, via Google translate, said: “Before the plane crash in the Tver region, eyewitnesses heard two strong pops. After that, the ship’s wing and stabilizer fell off near an abandoned farm in the village of Kuzhenkino.”

Kuzhenkino is a village about halfway between Moscow and St. Petersburgh, where Prigozhin’s Wagner Group is headquartered.

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In June, Prigozhin led a mutiny of his Wagner forces in Ukraine, where his for-hire Army had been at the center of some of the war’s most gruesome combat, including in the battle of Bakhmut. After what Prigozhin said was a Russian missile strike on a Wagner camp, Wagner forces captured a major hub in southern Russia, and a convoy of Wagner troops — numbering between 5,000 and Prigozhin-claimed 20,000 — drove halfway to Moscow within a day.

The two-day rebellion’s effect on the battlefield was murky but it was a crystal clear rebuke and public humiliation of Putin’s leadership in the war.

Prigozhin called off the mutiny on June 24, just over a day into the rebellion, after a series of behind the scenes negotiations with the Kremlin. He has traveled widely since, appearing in a video from Africa just days before the crash, in which he encouraged would-be recruits to join Wagner forces there.

Even before the June mutiny, Prigozhin had made a series of videos from the frontlines charging Russian army generals with negligence in the ongoing war.

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Source link: https://taskandpurpose.com/news/wagner-group-mutiny-leader-prigozhin-likely-killed-in-plane-crash/ by Matt White at taskandpurpose.com