The last days of Wagner’s Prigozhin

By | August 27, 2023

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Yevgeny Prigozhin spent his final days planning for the future.

Last Friday, the warlord’s private jet touched down in the capital of Central African Republic, on a mission to salvage one of the first client states of his Wagner mercenary company. His African empire had come to include some 5,000 men deployed across the continent.

In the riverside presidential palace in Bangui, the capital, Prigozhin told President Faustin-Archange Touadera that his aborted June mutiny in Russia wouldn’t stop him from bringing new fighters and investments to his business partners in Central Africa, according to three people familiar with the meeting.

Shortly after, a Wagner helicopter landed nearby carrying five commanders from Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces, a paramilitary group reliant on the mercenary group to wage war against their country’s government. The delegation had traveled to Bangui from the restive Darfur province bearing a gift for Prigozhin, who had provided them surface-to-air missiles: gold bars from the mines his mercenaries helped secure in Sudan’s war-torn west.

On the other side of the Sahara, Prigozhin’s rivals in Russia’s defense ministry were delivering a competing message to Wagner’s clients in Libya. The Kremlin was taking formal control of a sprawling corporate network whose ambitions had outgrown President Vladimir Putin’s comfort. The delegation was led by deputy defense minister Yunus-Bek Yevkurov—the man whom Prigozhin publicly berated and rebuked for using the informal “you” to address him when Wagner captured the Southern Military District HQ in Rostov, Ukraine, on June 24.

Prigozhin flew back to Russia around the same time, stopping over in Mali, and weaving through the airspace of client states he was trying to salvage from Kremlin control.

It was a farewell tour that the 62-year-old paramilitary chief didn’t realize he was making. [Continue reading…]

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