Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin ‘probably underestimated’ the offense he caused Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of his ‘assassination’ this week, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). ).
Prigozhin was reportedly killed alongside some of his top Wagner Group lieutenants when his private jet crashed in Russia’s Tver region on Wednesday. The fatal accident happened exactly two months after the paramilitary leader led a short mutiny against the Russian army.
The rebellion ended after a day, following a peace deal brokered by Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko. Wagner’s forces were exiled to Belarus following what some called the “humiliation” of Putin. However, Prigozhin returned to Russia soon after his supposed exile.
A report released Thursday by the ISW, a US-based think tank, says it is “almost certain” that Putin orchestrated Prighozin’s death in retaliation for his rebellion against the Russian military in June. The report quotes a Russian “insider” who claims that “Prigozhin was convinced that Putin would forgive him” for the mutiny.
“Prigozhin probably underestimated how much his rebellion personally humiliated Putin,” the report said. “Prigozhin had also apparently overestimated the value of his own loyalty to Putin. Putin values loyalty highly and frequently rewarded loyal Russian officials and military commanders, even when they failed.”
“Prigozhin’s rebellion was an act of significant insubordination, even though he claimed he had rebelled out of loyalty to Russia,” the text continues. “Putin’s statement was therefore a warning to those who are currently loyal to him: some mistakes are too serious for loyalty to overcome.”
News week contacted the Russian Defense Ministry by email Thursday evening for comment.
An Associated Press (AP) report on Thursday says a preliminary assessment by US intelligence determined that Prigozhin’s plane crashed due to an intentional explosion.
Pentagon spokesman Air Force Brigadier General Pat Ryder told a press briefing on Thursday that reports that the crash was caused by a surface-to-air missile were “inaccurate “, leaving the possibility that another form of sabotage, such as a bomb, could have dragged down the plane.
An intelligence official told the AP that Putin’s “long history of trying to silence his critics” meant it was “very likely” that Prigozhin was assassinated.
An ISW report published Aug. 9 suggests that the post-mutiny deal between Putin and Prigozhin has “collapsed,” while noting that Putin was likely “still concerned about the threat Prigozhin poses to his long-term goals.” term “.
Prigozhin appeared in his first confirmed video released after the rebellion on Monday, teasing the Wagner Group’s new “mission” in Africa.
Some remaining members of the Wagner Group have vowed “revenge” on Putin and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu after the alleged assassination of their leader.
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