I image most of you have seen one or more of the flood of articles reporting the death of Evgeny Prigozhin in a “plane crash” today. The plane, which was enroute to St. Petersburg from Moscow, crashed about half-way through the flight in the Republic of Tver.
We know for certain that the plane did not explode in mid-air. Check out thess two videos.
In the twitter video taken by a lady who lives on a farm in Russia you can see a puff on the left and then the plane appears as it falls in a slight dead spin. That means it lost almost all aerodynamic lift capabilities. The Embraer 600 (pictured above) has its engines at attached neat the tail of the aircraft. As the plane falls it rotates slightly, which means that part of one wing was still attached. Yet, most of the wings are not visible. The vapor trail that follows the jet as it plummets to the ground is most likely fuel rather than smoke.
What caused the wings to separate? One possibility is shrapnel from a surface-to-air missile. I have heard that Western intelligence reports that there were several SA-20 batteries close enough to conduct the engagement and that those systems were active (which is atypical for that region) during the time Prigozhin’s plane passed overhead. So, a shoot down is one possibility.
Structural failure, due to improper maintenance or sabotage, is another possibility for the catastrophic loss of the wings.
Because of Prigozhin’s ties to the GRU I am always skeptical of the initial story. Note, this coincides with posts on Telegram (unconfirmed) that Zurovikin is being punished/prosecuted and Prigozhin’s recent public statements about taking a greater military role near Niger. That raises another possible list of suspects.
One other scenario to consider — friends or relatives (or both) of the Russian airmen killed by Wagner during the mutiny in June may have taken matters into their own hands to seek retribution.
I am skeptical of the claims that Putin ordered this. For starters Putin was officiating at the commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Kursk. I find it hard to believe that Putin would distract from that event by giving the green light to execute Prigozhin in this manner. This does not serve Putin’s interest because the downing of the plane also killed pilots and other passengers not implicated in Prigozhin’s mutiny. If Putin wanted to kill Prigozhin he would have ordered it sooner and done so in a much less messy way. For example, when you shoot down a plane you have no way to predict where the aircraft debris could have landed. Of course, identifying remains will be a challenge. The aircraft was burning on the ground and certainly consumed at least some of the bodies.
I discount this as an act of Maskirovka because it involved the deaths of at least 8 other people with no public profile linked to Wagner.
How about the possibility that this was staged. In other words, no passengers or crew actually were on board. Then Embraer was piloted remotely and shot down in order to send Western intel into a frenzy (because that is exactly what is going on right now) trying to figure out what the hell is going on?
One thing is certain — it feeds that meme that if you cross Putin you are a dead man walking. It does not matter whether that meme is true. If that is what foreigners believe then it is true by definition.