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Prigozhin’s Plane Crash: Conspiracies & Consequences
Some in the Alt-Media Community have been pushing an old video on social media where Putin says that he doesn’t forgive betrayal, while the Mainstream Media has reminded everyone of US officials’ prior warnings that Prigozhin’s life was in danger. Both camps strongly imply that the Russian leader was responsible for the Wagner chief’s death, but their conspiracy theory doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.
Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin and elite members of his group’s leadership were killed in a plane crash Wednesday evening outside Moscow in circumstances that have yet to be fully determined. Before debunking the popular conspiracy theory that President Putin was responsible and discussing the possible consequences of this incident, it’s important to clarify the deceased’s relationship to the Russian state. Here are a few relevant analyses that will then be summarized for the reader’s convenience:
In brief, Wagner’s long-running rivalry with the Defense Ministry finally spiraled out of control in late June, but President Putin peacefully resolved the crisis by de facto pardoning those involved. Some then went to Belarus while others traveled to Africa. This outcome aligned with Russia’s national interests but was spun by some members of the Alt-Media Community (AMC) as proof of a “false flag coup”. What’s indisputable, however, is that Wagner continued functioning as an instrument of the Russian state.
Prigozhin had just published a video from the Sahel in the days before he died where he declared that he was “making Russia even greater on all continents! And Africa even more free.” The regional context concerned the spate of anti-French revolts there in recent years that took the form of patriotic military coups, with the most recent one being in Niger, which is now threatened by a French-backed Nigerian-led ECOWAS invasion. Here are some analyses about Russia’s growing role in that part of the world:
And here are a couple pieces about the new West African Crisis:
These last ten analyses are relevant to Wednesday’s incident since Wagner’s growing role in helping Sahelian states safeguard their sovereignty was speculated by some to be the reason why the West allegedly assassinated that group’s leader. While no evidence has yet to emerge in support of that theory, the previously shared analysis from early July regarding President Putin’s meeting with Wagner leaders explains why their African operations would still continue even without Prigozhin at the helm.
Having detailed the most relevant developments leading up to Prigozhin’s plane crash, it’s now time to draw attention to the AMC’s and their putative Mainstream Media (MSM) rivals’ conspiracy theory implying that President Putin had a hand in his death. The first has been pushing an old video on social media where the Russian leader says that he can’t forgive betrayal while the second has reminded everyone of US officials’ prior warnings that Prigozhin’s life was in danger.
Each camp strongly suggests that the Russian leader was responsible for Wednesday’s incident, with the AMC hinting that this was due to personal reasons while the MSM wants their targeted audience to believe that it was yet another “political killing” in a long line of many. Each requires accepting that President Putin supposedly lied when he said on national television that “I will keep my promise” to let those involved in late June’s events decide their own futures without fear of state retribution.
Not only that, but this conspiracy theory’s adherents also think that he then ordered Prigozhin’s death in one of the most dramatic ways possible, which irresponsibly risked harming innocent civilians on the ground. There are compelling reasons to doubt this version of events. For starters, the outcome of what happened and the optics connected with it are both disadvantageous to Russia’s national interests, and it’s absurd to imagine that President Putin plotted to undermine his own country like this.
Eliminating Prigozhin and elite members of this group’s leadership would be a blatant violation of the promise that he gave them on national television, and this could incite Wagner’s rank-and-file along with their supporters in the armed forces and civil society to consider anti-state actions in response. Those who are influenced by this conspiracy theory might convince themselves that they could be next, hence why they have to “act first out of self-defense”, thus setting into motion a self-fulfilling prophecy.
It's therefore in the West’s interests to weaponize this false perception for the purpose of manipulating highly trained forces and their sympathizers into functioning as “useful idiots” for destabilizing Russia through either another coup/mutiny attempt, terrorism, and/or a Color Revolution. Even if these scenarios don’t come to pass, the optics are still very damaging to Russia’s reputation at the leadership and state levels.
The MSM can maximally amplify speculation that President Putin signed Prigozhin’s death warrant to sow suspicions about his sincerity in signaling earlier this summer that he’s still interested in politically resolving the NATO-Russian proxy war in Ukraine. Likewise, this can also be done to mislead the international community about Russia’s political stability by making them falsely think that there’s a bloody power struggle taking place behind the scenes among competing military-intelligence factions.
On that note, it’s time to segue into the consequences of Prigozhin’s plane crash, beginning with what’s unlikely to happen before sharing a few words about what could soon follow. As was earlier written, Wagner’s African operations probably won’t be affected since it was always unrealistic to imagine that he and a few elite members were micromanaging dozens of tactical teams on the ground across various countries in real time. Morale might take a temporary hit, but the rank-and-file will eventually recover.
The West’s Hybrid War plot that was described in the preceding paragraphs isn’t expected to transpire, but even if some movement is made in that direction, then the threat to Russia’s security and stability would be manageable so nobody should prepare for “Balkanization”, civil war, or regime change. That said, the ongoing investigation will surely explore whether Wednesday’s incident was due to foul play, including scenarios of Kiev’s involvement but also possibly a rogue military-intelligence faction.
It's premature to jump to conclusions in order to avoid functioning as the West’s “useful idiots” by either giving Kiev credit for kills that it wasn’t responsible for or sowing seeds of suspicion about Russian stability respectively, but both also can’t confidently be ruled out at this time either. After all, if there was a bomb on board like some speculate, then that would represent a major security lapse. Even if a rogue military-intelligence faction was involved, however, there’s no chance that they’ll destabilize Russia.
All told, while it remains unclear exactly what caused Prigozhin’s plane crash, President Putin certainly didn’t have a hand in it, but some in the AMC and especially the MSM will still imply otherwise. In the event that foul play was responsible, then Russia’s security services will definitely get to the bottom of it, though the state might decide that its interests are best served by not acknowledging this if it happened. In any case, this incident won’t destabilize Russia nor hinder its African activities or special operation.